Royal Enfield is one of the fastest growing and biggest Indian motorcycle manufacturing companies.
Royal Enfield faced many ups and downs to become what it is now.
Its success story is both very interesting and inspiring.
So read on.
Starting in England-
In 1892, Eadie Manufacturing Company Limited was started by Albert Eadie and Robert Walker Smith in England.
In the initial phases, this company used to manufacture the different parts of guns for Royal Small Arms Factory.
In 1896, a new subsidiary company of the Eadie Manufacturing Limited was formed, by the name The New Enfield Cycle Company Limited.
This company used to produce bicycles and its components.
In 1899, this company also manufactured a four-wheeled bicycle (Quadricycle).
After a period of two years, in 1901 The New Enfield Cycle Company produced its first motorcycle by fixing a motor produced by Minerva Company on its bicycle.
And in 1903, this company also started producing cars.
Unfortunately, after a few years, The New Enfield Cycle Company encountered huge losses, which made them sell their car business to a company by name, Alldays and Onions limited.
Now, The New Enfield Cycle Company focused solely on manufacturing motorcycles.
This company later assumed the name Royal Enfield.
Serving in World Wars-
In 1914, Royal Enfield tasted its first huge success when it received a huge order from the British war department, which decided to use its motorcycles in the First World War.
After which, the Imperial Russian Government also decided to place orders with Royal Enfield.
This popularised the Royal Enfield motorcycles.
And during the Second World War, the British Authorities signed a big contract with Royal Enfield for the military motorcycles.
The Royal Enfield motorcycles were widely employed in the Second World War.
Eventually, Royal Enfield entered the Indian market in 1949.
These motorcycles gained immense popularity in India, when the Indian government decided to use these motorcycles for its army and police personnel.
For this purpose, 800-350 cc motorcycles of the Royal Enfield were employed.
In 1955, Royal Enfield partnered with the Madras Motors in India giving birth to Royal Enfield India.
Madras Motors used to assemble the components of the 350 cc motorcycle, which they used to import from England.
And from 1962, all the motorcycle components are locally manufactured in India.
Becoming an Indian brand-
The Enfield England encountered huge losses, by which, in 1896 it was shut down.
Luckily, even then the Enfield India was not shut down and this plant in India was manufacturing motorcycles.
But, even this company in India was making losses, so it was merged with Eicher Motors.
So, over the course of time this British company became an Indian brand.
These motorcycles have been used by Indian Army for patrolling since 1955.
When Eicher Motors bought Royal Enfield, Royal Enfield was in a very bad position.
The Royal Enfield was making negligible profits at that time.
After incurring heavy losses for a period of five long years, Eicher Motors decided to stop the production of Royal Enfield motorcycles.
Siddhartha Lal, the son of Vikram Lal (former chief executive officer of Eicher motors) had a great passion towards motorcycles.
So, he decided to give a new life to the Royal Enfield brand.
Siddhartha Lal was very confident that he could make Royal Enfield a very successful and profitable brand.
So, he requested a chance to save Royal Enfield with Eicher Motors, as Eicher Motors was planning to shut down the Royal Enfield brand.
Luckily, all the board members agreed with the decision of Siddhartha Lal to save Royal Enfield.
In 2005, Siddhartha Lal was appointed as the managing director of Eicher Motors.
At that time, Eicher Motors was into 15 businesses, some of which include manufacturing automotive spare parts and components, trucks, buses, tractors, consultancy, garments, etc.
Siddhartha Lal took a very bold decision to sell out 13 businesses out of the 15 businesses.
So, Eicher Motors fully concentrated on its two remaining businesses, which include truck and bike businesses.
As Siddhartha Lal firmly believed that instead of doing several businesses with low profits, it is much better to focus only on a couple of businesses and become a market leader in them.
By this, we can understand that Siddhartha Lal is a much focused person.
This decision was very emotionally challenging for Siddhartha Lal, as the tractor business was initiated by his grandfather.
But in order to save Eicher Motors, he took this decision.
Many criticised Siddhartha Lal for his decision and opined that this company would soon become bankrupt.
Even though the Eicher Motors trucks were doing somewhat well, they were not in a position to compete with the big players in the industry.
So, in 2008, Eicher Motors formed a joint venture with Volvo for support in manufacturing buses and heavy trucks.
This proved to be a very good decision, as within a short span of time, their trucks stood at number three position in the Indian market.
Saving Royal Enfield-
Even though their truck business picked up pace, their Royal Enfield business was still in a sorry state of affairs.
So, Siddhartha Lal decided to better their bikes by improving their performance without compromising on their vintage looks.
He hired many passionate employees into the Royal Enfield management team.
Siddhartha Lal rode the Royal Enfield bikes for thousands of kilometres to understand the issues pertaining to the bikes and made numerous technical changes accordingly, like shifting the gear plate to the left side from right side.
And also the engine was improved significantly.
His post-graduation in mechanical engineering from Cranfield University helped him immensely in developing Royal Enfield motorcycles.
In addition to maintaining quality, Siddhartha Lal also strived to improve the customer experience by updating the company’s brand outlets.
As he was a passionate rider himself, he grasped the various weaknesses of the bikes and started on improving them.
Before launching Continental GT motorcycle, Siddhartha Lal conducted the trial of this bike by riding it from Goa to Mangalore.
A new bike segment-
At that time, many motorcycle companies in India were doing successful business by selling affordable bikes.
But Siddhartha Lal chose to step in the expensive and powerful bikes market.
Also, many motorcycle models like Continental GT, Thunderbird, Bullet Electra, etc. were launched.
Siddhartha Lal vividly used various marketing techniques for popularising the Royal Enfield brand.
Royal Enfield was marketed as a powerful and adventurous bike.
So, Royal Enfield began to sponsor many off-road rallies, adventurous rides and many events, like Himalayan Odyssey, Rider Mania in Goa, etc.
Also, there are many rider clubs for Royal Enfield riders.
Royal Enfield set up classic retail outlets at many parts of the country to enhance their customers biking experience.
These caused a spike in the popularity and sales of Royal Enfield bikes.
The Royal Enfield is aiming to become a world leader in the mid-size bike segment (250cc-750cc).
Now, in India Royal Enfield has over 90 per cent share in the mid-size bike segment.
In 2014, Royal Enfield accounted for over 80 per cent profits of the Eicher motors.
Now, Royal Enfield sells over 50,000 bikes per month.
Surpassing Harley Davidson-
In 2015, the sales of Royal Enfield motorcycles surpassed that of Harley Davidson globally.
Eventually, Royal Enfield became a market leader in over 250 cc bikes in India.
On 18 September 2017, Royal Enfield launched its classic 350 and Classic 500 bikes.
In 2018, Vikram Lal, the father of Siddhartha Lal became the 14th richest person in India.
Siddhartha Lal transformed a struggling business into a successful business with his hard work and passion.
After its huge success in India, Royal Enfield is eying on global expansion.
Royal Enfield also established its R and D centre in London.
In 2015, Royal Enfield was awarded for the best marketing and sales award.
Siddhartha Lal, the former CEO and managing director of Royal Enfield was awarded EY Entrepreneur of the year for 2018.
The current CEO of Royal Enfield is B Govindarajan.
Fans across the world-
Royal Enfield has garnered fans not only in India but all over the world.
Currently, the bikes of Royal Enfield are sold in over 50 countries, some of which include the USA, South Africa, France, Russia, Japan, Australia, etc.
Royal Enfield has also set up a wide network of its brand stores and authorised dealers across India.
All the Royal Enfield bikes are manufactured in India.
Royal Enfield is one of the oldest motorcycle brands in the world which is still manufacturing motorcycles.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is so special about Royal Enfield?
Royal Enfield motorcycles are very special because of their-
• Retro looks- Royal Enfield motorcycles maintain their vintage looks without compromising performance.
• Road presence- Compared to commuter bikes (motorcycles), these motorcycles are more noticeable and have good road presence.
• Masculinity- As Royal Enfield motorcycles are big and heavy, their riders need to be masculine to handle them. And the riders of Royal Enfield motorcycles are seen as brawny.
Is Royal Enfield an Indian company?
Yes, Royal Enfield is a Indian company and is headquartered in Chennai, India.
Royal Enfield has all its manufacturing plants in Chennai and only one assembly unit outside India, in Argentina.
Why is a Royal Enfield motorcycle called a bullet?
Initially, The Enfield Cycle Company (Royal Enfield) produced the very famous motorcycles by the name Royal Enfield Bullet.
Royal Enfield still produces Royal Enfield Bullet motorcycles.
And as these motorcycles became very famous, their other motorcycle models also became to be known as bullets especially in India.
Where are Royal Enfields built?
Currently, Royal Enfield motorcycles are being built in three locations namely-
• Anjugam Nagar, Tiruvottiyur, Chennai, Tamil Nadu
• Sipcot Industrial Park, Vallam Vadagal, Chennai
• SH 48, Oragadam Industrial Corridor, Oragadam, Tamil Nadu.
Why are Royal Enfields cheap?
The prices of Royal Enfield motorcycles are relatively affordable because of the following reasons-
• All these motorcycles are made in India itself and as the labor costs are lower in India, Royal Enfield motorcycles also cost less.
• Royal Enfield motorcycles are targeted towards Indians and as Indians are price sensitive, it makes sense to offer Royal Enfield motorcycles at competitive prices.
Did Royal Enfield make guns?
Around the 1890s, Royal Enfield made precision parts for firearms for the Royal Small Arms Factory.
Can a girl ride Royal Enfield?
Yes, girls can ride Royal Enfield motorcycles.
In 2019, a 16-yr-old girl in Dadri, Uttar Pradesh was seen riding a Royal Enfield motorcycle.
Remember that you should be 18 years and above to ride a Royal Enfield motorcycle in India.
If you are below 18 years, never attempt to ride a motorcycle with gear as underage driving is an offence in India.