Royal Enfield’s journeyNovember 4, 2018
Royal Enfield’s journey was started 125 years ago from the base of British. In 1892 Albert Eadie and R.W. Smith started a company named Eadie Manufacturing Ltd. The company was making some Rifle and Armour parts. In 1892 The company was renamed as the Eadie Manufacturing Co; it produced sewing needles and bicycles. The company received a large contract to supply precision rifle parts to the Royal Small Arms Factory (Enfield). In celebration of this, they called their new bicycle the “Enfield”. On 1893 The word “Royal” (after the Royal Small Arms Factory) was added to the product name and thus the Royal Enfield began. The company has started its business as a weapon manufacturing mostly famous for the Enfield rifle and tagged as “Made Like A Gun and Canon”.
The beginning in Indian Market-
The company was engaged in building a motorcycle’s lawnmowers and stationary engines. The company was producing cycles and so, in 1901 they made the 1st Royal Enfield bike. Lately, they entered the Indian Market in 1949. In 1955 and motorcycle company collaborated with “Madras Motors” in India to form and field of India located in Chennai and started producing the 350cc Royal Enfield Bullet motorcycle in Madras. At first, Machines were assembled from the component which was imported from England but from 1957, Royal Enfield of India acquired machines necessary to build components in India and by 1962 all components were made in India.
Royal Enfield supplied its solid machines to British Army during World War 1941, as 225cc 2 stroke single engine and 425cc V twin engine to equip British War Department and also during 2nd World War. Royal Enfield also made lightweight 125cc motorcycle design to be released by parachute with airborne troops in order to support in a war zone. Till 1948, Royal Enfield made many motorcycles like single cylinder HV 350cc model G and 500cc model J with rigid rare frame and Telescopic Front fork. In 1948 a revolutionary development in the form of rear suspension shock was developed in Bullet 350 cc and 500cc. After 1949 Royal Enfield came up with many motorcycles like 500 twins and meteors and in 700 segments super meteors and Consolations and 250cc Royal Enfield Clipper which later on by popularity sold as GP scramble and Moto X. From 1955 to 1959 Royal Enfield was painted red and marketed in the USA as Indian motorcycle by Brookhouse Corporation who had the control of the Indian sales and cooperation. In 1965 the Indian government ordered 800 numbers of 350cc model Bullet bikes for Indian Police and Army. In 1955 a company named Redditch joined Madras Motors to make Enfield bikes in India and started producing 350cc, where the MADRAS MOTOR was the majority shareholder.
Even though with so many achievements the Royal Enfield could not sustain the market for bike lovers in the street. There were so many other bikes in the street that was putting down the Royal Enfield reputation. Lately, Royal Enfield was challenged by equivalent bikes in the market, like the Yamaha RD 350 and newly emerging bikes in the country. The mismanagement systems in the company, high fuel consumption, clutching problem, high price cause a descending spiral of the sales of Royal Enfield. Because the Royal Enfield’s birth was made for the military purpose and afterwards when tried to come for the general people they failed. And at the end of 1971 Royal Enfield was shut down in England. The Indian market for Royal Enfield was still going on but the Madras Motor company was taking losses rather than profit. And in late 1982 Madras Motor sold the company to Eicher Motors.
The Second phase
After entered in Eicher Motors it was still tough for the company to sell the bike to civilians as it was being used for military only. Co-founder of Eicher Motors Mr Vikram Lal was running a conglomerate diversified company having 15 types of business like Trucks, Tractors, Consultancy, Garments, Footwears, Bikes etc. where his company was not making return of Investment from their business. As no one of the business was a market leader. So, in 2000 after having continuous losses the board members decided to shut down the Royal Enfield.
Mr.Siddhartha Lal, son of Vikram Lal had stepped in and asked the board member to give him a chance to save the Royal Enfield. He was 26 at then. Siddhartha was a rider and bike lover. He was so passionate for Royal Enfield so that he rode the bike at his wedding. Siddhartha Lal is an automobile engineer and who knows better to repair a bike in the middle of the road. And from then, the 2nd phase of Royal Enfield had started and touched the hikes of every business. Siddhartha Lal is still managing the company to be no 1 worldwide.
From right side to left side
To understand the problems deeply in ROYAL ENFIELD he rode the bike for about 1000 km. He worked on according to consumer’s aspects as he was also a Bike rider. He concentrates on leisure market (the cruiser bikes) rather than in a consumer (other normal bikes) market because in the consumer market the numbers of competitors were many. Firstly he identified the weakness of the bike such as Engine Seize, Clutch Failure, Oil Leakage, Kick Start, and Maintenance problem and worked on it. He changed the gear plate from right side to left side according to the Indian usability and changed the engine components for better riding experience. But he never changed the earlier look of the Royal Enfield as he always admired the bike’s royal looks.
He changed the bike profile and many things on it, according to the new generation people’s demand. Keeping in mind the quality and customer’s experience, he just changed everything and gradually developed the perspective of brand outlets. With so much of changes, people start liking the bike which was earlier garbage to buy. Afterwards, he made the Thunderbird and Bullet Electra which came with a heavy demand in India.
A Himalayan Odyssey
Siddhartha was very much focused on the Bike image and brand building. He made the Royal Enfield as a Powerful and Adventures bike with its exciting features and performance. It was since 1955 that the Indian Army was using Royal Enfield. So it became a craze for the people. He had never used Tv adds or media even a star to promote his bike. Because Royal Enfield speaks everything on its own. To promote Royal Enfield as adventures bike his company organizes bike events and adventures trip for Royal Enfield bike lovers. Some events like a Himalayan odyssey, White Out, Scramble Gurugram, Escapade Wayanad, RideMania and so many.
Siddhartha has always focused on bikes mid-sized segment from 250cc to 700cc where he left behind his competitors like Bajaj, Yamaha, Honda etc. But this journey was not at all easy for him at starting. Even the current scenario, it is a tough war to deal between the demand and supply. At first in their plant, there was a capacity of making 6000 bikes a month where the production was about of 2000 only. In 2010 Eicher Motors had sold 50 Thousand bikes using 3 engine platforms and going forward they sold about 3 lakh bikes using one engine platform. He is gradually increasing the efficiency of the production method but there is 4-6 months of gap or waiting period for a customer. And Siddhartha Lal is working on to cope up with the demands.
Mr Siddhartha Lal has worked so hard for his dream and struggled with devotions for his passion that leads Eicher Motors share price from 80 Rs to 27 Thousand Rs in just 15 years (2003-2015). It’s a say like that if you had a Royal Enfield in 2003, you will just have a piece of bike till now. But if you had invested in Eicher Motors you would have earned a 33000% (approx) of Royal Enfield turn.
Now Siddhartha has taken the Royal Enfield to other countries like America, South Africa, Australia, Indonesia, England etc where people are crazy to have a Royal Enfield bike to park in the garage.