Harley-Davidson is steadily gaining a foothold in the Indian subcontinent and Royal Enfield has chosen to move in the opposite direction towards the west. Royal Enfield has a rich heritage and packs a legacy that comes second to none. The company founded in 1983 as Enfield Manufacturing Co. Ltd became an Indian icon when the parent firm closed down in 1967 and had started producing Bullets by then.
The Indian government back then had a requirement of capable motorcycles for its police and military forces. Royal Enfield received an order of 800 motorcycles of 350cc capacity. The parent firm joined hands with Madras Motors to form Enfield India and began the assembly of bikes under license. Madras Motors owned majority of the shares and as per Indian law, it stood to be the natural heir when the parent firm decided to dissolve. The bikes had achieved a cult status by this time in India.
During the 1980s and 1990s, the entry of 100cc Japanese bikes into the Indian market dented the market sales of the Bullet and the loss-making company was supposedly going to be put up for sale. But that did not happen and couple of years down the line, the company is back to doing business bigger than ever.
Royal Enfield went on to launch the Continental GT in what was once its parent market in the UK. The company is positioned as a cool, urban brand although 33 percent of the bikes are sold in the Punjab-Haryana-Delhi sector. The sales numbers doubled from 50,000 in 2010 to 1,00,000 in 2012 leading to the construction of a new factory near Chennai with a production capacity of 1,75,000 units that can be scaled up to 5,00,000 units.
Royal Enfield will offer the Café Racer to the Britons at a time when there is increasing consciousness about quick urban mobility. Production of the Café Racer ceased by 1985 and a new version was showcased at the Auto Expo in 2010 and 2012 in concept and production guise respectively. The Continental GT will make its way to the American markets soon in its 535cc form. Harley-Davidson on the other hand is downsizing its engines to 500cc for the Indian market. Evidently, there is great potential for this segment of bikes and Royal Enfield intends to tap the same across global markets.