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The British Colony Uprising--ROYAL ENFIELD MOTORCYCLES

National Pride, Economic Growth and Jobs around an Old English Motorcycle Brand

By Ujjwal Dey 2016 with photos and ad art from Royal Enfield

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“India Shining!” said the Tourism Advertisement in international magazines. Then came the popular government in 2014 launching “Make in India” campaign. The major objective behind the initiative focused on job creation and skill enhancement in 25 sectors of the economy.

Ray-Ban sunglasses has a manufacturing unit in India. Microsoft is building “smart-city” in India. IBM has only one research lab outside American territory and it is in India. Indian scientists launched Mars orbit mission which was a lot cheaper than the budget of movie “Gravity” which won Oscar nominations.

India became the first nation in history to succeed in Mars orbit in first attempt. Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) is a multilateral export control regime which has India as a member but China has as yet not qualified because their missiles are not as advanced.

In 2016, India became the biggest international trade partner of USA. Indian Prime Minister got a standing welcome and later a standing ovation at US Congress on his historic speech addressing the members of the US Congress.


About 8.02 million foreign tourists arrived in India in 2015 recording a growth rate of 4.4%. Tennis champion and ever beautiful Steffi Graf is Kerala State’s Ayurveda Tourism brand ambassador.

Congressional ovation.
Congressional ovation.

In 2015, India received US $63 billion in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) hoping to surpass the United States of America as well as the People's Republic of China. Lenovo, Motorola, Foxconn, Xiaomi are some latest technology manufacturers making their goods in India. In February 2016, Lockheed Martin stated that it was ready to manufacture F-16 fighter jets in India. CEO of Microsoft, Google, Adobe, Pepsi, MasterCard are immigrants from India. World’s largest alcoholic beverages company Diageo has an Indian immigrant as CEO.

Royal Enfield in Thailand.
Royal Enfield in Thailand.

As I discussed last year at: http://www.bikernet.com/pages/Commuting_to_a_Lifestyle.aspx
Royal Enfield is now wholly an Indian company with its imperial British legacy intact.

Paris store.
Paris store.

Enfield motorcycles have upgraded their engines and stylised their range with branded merchandise to boost fan following.

Dubai Showroom.
Dubai Showroom.

But these cosmetic steps are not the only leaps made by this Indian predator. The Enfield India company announced vast expansion by opening exclusive dealerships in France, Spain, UK, USA, Germany, Italy, Russia, Japan, Dubai and Thailand. If you are at a pretty looking destination wanting to stroll the streets and beaches and mountains – you will now find an Enfield motorcycle dealership to enable your trip.

Vintage ad.
Vintage ad.

Resurgence of the World’s First Motorcycle Company:
Eicher Motors which has a large investment holding in Enfield motorcycles plans to make Enfield a leading player in the mid-sized motorcycling segment of 250-750cc in Europe and North America. Back in 2014, Enfield India was exporting 1000 motorcycles to USA annually. Now it has Authorised Dealers and Authorised Service Centers in USA.

Madrid dealership.
Madrid dealership.

Royal Enfield has 80 dealership across France and 25 in Spain and is expanding its presence in these markets. These include exclusive showrooms in Madrid and Paris. In France, Royal Enfield witnessed 60% growth in the first seven months of 2015. In Spain, while the two-wheeler market has grown 23%, the company has received a very encouraging response, reporting a sales growth of over 300% between January-August 2015 compared to same period in 2014.

Enfield has been participating in events like Goodwood Revival Festival in the UK, Bonneville Speed Trails in the US. In August, it had appointed KSR group as its distributor in Germany. This has got the vintage looking motorcycle many eyeballs in news and magazines worldwide. Famous bike designer Pierre Terblanche who has worked for over 10 years with Ducati is a fulltime designer for Royal Enfield now.

At the same time, they are not allowing Harley-Davidson, Triumph or Ducati to gain foothold in home market of India. Enfield’s new plant will manufacture 600,000 units per year. In year 2014, India had 300 Authorised Dealers of Enfield. It became 400 Authorised Dealers by 2015. The goal is to surpass 500 Authorised Dealers in India in 2016. To avoid inflation in price due to taxation, Enfield too is ready to assemble their motorcycles in foreign countries just as competitor Harley-Davidson assembles their motorcycles in India to avoid tough custom / import duties.

With a combined sales figure of 51,320 motorcycles including both domestic as well as exports, Royal Enfield posted a growth of 51% in March 2016. Domestic sales recorded an increase of 52.4% at 50,059 units during the month, as compared to 32,854 units during March, 2015. Exports has seen a growth of 52.85% to 1261 units as against 825 units same month last year. Reaching sales of over fifty thousand motorcycles in a single month is a significant milestone for Royal Enfield.

The total sales during the first three months of 2016 stood at 600,998 units as against 395,437 units during the same period of last year, registering 52% growth.

Harley-Davidson was so threatened by the massive growth and incredible expansion rate of Enfield that they introduced a poor-man’s Harley-Davidson in India called Street 750cc in 2015. People would rather ride a premium motorcycle at a competitive price than a cheap looking foreign model targeted at low-income group riders in India.

Challenges and Struggles:
However, it has not been all candy and sugar for the management at Enfield. Their much hyped and over ambitious all-terrain motorcycle named “Himalayan” opened to poor reviews for diverting from the tradition Enfield look and design. Problems worsened with immediate factory recall of thousands of sold Himalayan motorcycles which had a problem in their rocker shaft and clutch assembly. This was a big investment of money, time and energy and it has seemed to bomb at the boxoffice. Yet in 2016, Enfield is the fastest growing motorcycle brand in the world.

Media Presence:
Can you imagine James Dean or Marlon Brando in their youth without a motorcycle? Harley-Davidson rode the fame and infamy and the Sales figures from Hollywood depiction of rebels on motorbikes.

Enfield has entered into prime and creamy endorsement deals with some of the biggest movie production houses and directors to promote their classic looking Enfield motorcycles.

Past year’s biggest movies “Bhaag Milkha Bhaag”, “Jab Tak Hain Jaan”, “Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara” had huge posters and advertisements featuring Enfield Desert Storm 500cc motorcycle. Some of the biggest celebrity actors such as Hrithik Roshan, Katrina Kaif, Shah Rukh Khan and Ajay Devgan were seen riding the “Bullet” – the unforgettable unvanquished unbeatable icon of Indian motorcycling history.

The Harry Potter movie Deathly Hollows part-1 has a 1960 Royal Enfield in it. Brad Pitt rode and repaired an Enfield motorcycle in the role of Benjamin Button.

Cultural invasion:
India and its citizens are drenched in American culture since the explosion of MTV in the 1980s to the launch of Hollywood Studios such as 20th Century Fox, Disney, Warner Brothers, etc. who are producing local language movies in Mumbai. Even before India’s independence from the British, the USA and its leaders were a prime and key inspiration for democratic India and liberation from colonialism. A global economy does benefit all parties if all parties participate fully. It would be great to buy a Harley-Davidson at the same price as Americans do, but it costs twice as much because of the taxation on imports. Hell, I can’t even afford a bottle of Jack Daniels due to the import costs. As USA steers the world into a new age of WTO and mobile human resources, we do hope for a modern world full of pleasures with an end to any mediocre product or service.

Meanwhile, do share your experience of visiting an Enfield dealership outside India or of having straddled the Enfield on any adventure. Ride On!

Copyright by Ujjwal Dey

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Reader Comments

And may I add the extreme pleasure of dealing with the tech help and customer service staff based in India. The lack of communication is only improved by the extremely polite nature of the Indians that require three to ten times the necessary conversation that should be required.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

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