Chennai: Two-wheeler major Royal Enfield forayed into the midsize segment recently with the launch of its 650 cc twins – the Interceptor INT 650 and Continental GT 650.
The motorcycles have been launched in Chennai, with prices starting at Rs 2.5 lakh for the Interceptor and Rs 2.65 lakh for the Continental GT (ex-showroom, Tamilnadu).
With the launch of the motorcycles, Royal Enfield aims to further strengthen its share in the midsize two-wheeler market, said Head of Business (India) at Royal Enfield (RE), Shaji Koshy.
Speaking to News Today, Shaji said the bikes are global products and come with a three-year warranty and roadside assistance that is the same all throughout the globe.
He was asked about RE’s business in Tamilnadu, and Shaji said, “Royal Enfield does all its production in Tamilnadu and employs more people from the State. It has grown three times in the last three years here.”
The midsize two-wheeler market in 2017 sold around 1.4 million units and Royal Enfield had captured 59 per cent market share of it, taking the fight to industry heavyweights Harley Davidson, Triumph, and Japanese giants, among others.
Shaji said RE created the segment and that is the reason for its success. “We created the midsize segment and we are already the leader of the segment. We created the right foundation,” he said.
But he denied to specify a number for the investment that went into the development of the new bikes. “We did the groundwork over the last 10 years, starting from creating premium dealerships, best technology centres and recruiting the best talent. We launched the bikes after making the foundation stronger. We wanted customers to get the best experience. It was all planned,” Shaji stated.
The development of the bikes had started five years back with a 500-member team working both at Chennai and in the UK. Shaji stated that tests were conducted in India, UK, Spain and many other places that included different terrains and climates. Siddhartha Vikram Lal, the CEO of RE claims that the bikes were tested for a million kilometres.
In the conversation, Shaji stated that “ease of use” was at front while developing the bikes. when asked about demand for the bikes, he said he will need time to get specific numbers, but added that “production will be based on demand and we have lots of pressure on that front”.
Shaji says RE values its customers more and said, “We have around 3.5 million customers who would like to stay with the family. These bikes are a genuine upgrade that we are offering to our customers.” To cater to more customers overseas, RE aims to invest more in international markets in the upcoming years with the United States, Brazil, Thailand, etc, set to receive more dealerships.
Royal Enfield had reportedly been working on a custom section in its plant, much like premium manufacturers. On that front, Shaji said, “Custom bikes are in a nascent stage in India, with only a few players. With more time and maturity, it will grow. There are more things that are happening within Royal Enfield. We have a team working on that front. Once we reach a matured stage, we will give more information on that.”
The bikes come with bespoke Pirelli tyres. Shaji said, “Most of our suppliers work with us right from the moment we conceptualise a product. It is no different with Pirelli and the tyres are tailor-made to give customers such an experience.”
Shaji was asked about the segment rivals and he said, “Anybody can grow in the market. There are lots of opportunities. But, it must be noted that we are the leaders and at present we are very profitable.”
|Royal Enfield has 870 stores in India with a further 530 outlets abroad. In the midsize segment, RE owns 59 per cent market share. The segment sold around 1.4 million units in the year 2017.|
|Speaking about emission norms and electric mobility, the head of business, said, “RE is committed to meeting emission norms that are put forward by the government at any time. We are not clear about the future yet. Whenever it (announcements on electric mobility) comes, we will be ready. Currently our focus lies with the 650cc twins.”|