The Royal Enfield, one of the oldest surviving motorcycle manufacturers in the world, has been a sensation among young people for quite a while now. Its powerful engine and aesthetics have connected deeply with people, so much so that many live with the fervent dream of riding to Ladakh on a classic Enfield.
The company was founded in England in 1892 by Albert Eadie and Robert Walker Smith under the name Eadie Manufacturing Company Limited. It was introduced to the Indian market in 1949 and became instantly popular because of its use by the police force.
Following this, the company partnered up with Madras Motors, which led to the establishment of Royal Enfield India, but since the company was making losses in India, it was merged with Eicher Motors. Over the course of time, it finally became an Indian company. However, its streak of losses continued and took a toll on its survival, which eventually led Eicher to stop the production of its Royal Enfield Bikes.
In the year 2000, 26-year-old Siddharth Lal, the son of Vikram Lal, the former CEO of Eicher Motors, stepped up. He asked for an opportunity to rescue Royal Enfield and fortunately, he was given a chance. He freed the company from the shackles of debt by putting himself in the shoes of his customers.
Siddharth travelled on Royal Enfields for long stretches and started to identify technical shortcomings in the vehicle, such as the inconvenience that many riders used to face just because the gearbox was placed on the right side of the bike. Soon enough, he made some changes to rectify the issues he found and shifted the gear plate to the left side. This worked wonders on the bike’s kickstart bounce-back and also played a crucial role in improving the quality of its engines.
⚔️ Finding The Niche
While on one hand, Siddharth saw a glimmer of hope, on the other, he realised it was time to make some tough decisions. Eicher was in 15 different businesses at the time and he decided to shut down 13 of them so as to focus on two main segments: motorcycles and trucks.
As he believed in building a loyal community rather than blindly advertising his product, he set out to convince the public that Royal Enfield riders are a class apart and always stand out in the crowd. In an attempt to pull this off, Royal Enfield started sponsoring many bike rallies and adventurous rides, along with forming bikers’ clubs such as “Rider Mania” in Goa.
🔮 The Way Ahead
Since then, Royal Enfield has opened premium brand outlets and launched many successful and powerful motorcycle models like the Continental GT, Bullet Electra, Thunderbird, etc. It managed to sell 5,50,557 units domestically in the year 2021.
From struggling to stay afloat to surpassing giants like Harley Davidson in terms of sales globally, it sure had to take the rough roads, but now the Royal Enfield is cruising ahead and has to go a long way.