Royal Enfield Upshifts to Take On Global Heavyweights, Eyes Global Prominence

BENGALURU: Royal Enfield (RE) is unquestionably the leader in the cruiser bikes segment, in India. But when it comes to more evolved markets, cruisers are armed with power plants that are much more powerful and refined than what RE offers. Trying to penetrate the global market farther and eyeing for the top position in the medium displacement category (200 – 750 cc), the manufacturer is reported to be developing its offering for the international market, codenamed P61 at its R&D center in the UK. Original story by Ketan Thakkar of The Economic Times.

The P61 is planned to be targeted at the cruiser riders in the European and the US markets, arenas which require RE to upgrade at many fronts, especially the power output.  In an interview given to The Economic Times, Siddhartha Lal, CEO, RE admits that the current motorcycles offered by his firm lack to provide the highway speed riders seek in developed markets. According to sources, the P61 will be a twin-cylinder motorcycle with a displacement of 600 to 650 cc. 

This latest development from the world’s oldest two wheeler manufacturer is yet another evidence of the company’s goals to break free from the shackles of being traditionally identified as “thumpers”; a class of bikes still loved by many, but falling short on many present day standards. The Continental GT, an attempt on the yesteryear’s café racer class proved to be hugely successful for RE. The recently launched Himalayan is the country’s first homegrown tourer whose worth will be proved only as time goes by. Finishing the race to the top spot as early as possible seems to be on RE’s priority, as the company intends to roll out the P61 for the international market early in the next year.

The segment RE hopes to lead is currently dominated by industry heavyweights such Harley Davidson and Triumph. Rather than relying solely on new products, RE has taken other strategic steps as well. To keep a closer look on the development process of P61 and provide a better push into the global markets CEO Lal has relocated to London. Apart from acquiring UK-based motorcycle design and performance firm, Harris Performance Products Ltd., RE has also set up a technical center in the UK. The US is the world’s largest two wheeler market in terms of revenue; to make sure they don’t fall short on any front when the P61 is let out in the American soil, the company set up a wholly owned sales and marketing subsidiary at Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Harley Davidson’s foray with the Street 750, into the segment RE is eyeing, and that too in the latter’s home turf can be cited as a reason behind RE’s aggressive stance for the US market (the home turf of Harley). However, Harley officials deny any direct head on collision with the Indian bike manufacturer. Marc McAllister, MD, Harley-Davidson Asia-Pacific makes this clear in an interview with The Economic Times and informs that smaller displacement segment is not something Harley seriously considers to wander into. He adds that most of RE riders aspire to take on leisure motorcycling at some time, with chances of being majority of such riders considering Harley as the first option.

Apart from the mentioned P61, the company has also been busy revamping its existing productions to suite the taste of international markets, which will further bolster RE’s standing as a leading international player. The company is reported to be working on bigger and better versions of the Classic and Thunderbird, codenamed D41 and D61 respectively.

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