For Royal Enfield, Bullet Is Its North Star

Murali Gopalan
31 Aug 2023
06:00 PM
2 Min Read

The brand has constantly been the pivot of the premium midsize motorcycle maker and its all-new avatar will roll out of its Chennai plant on September 1.

Royal Enfield Classic

As Royal Enfield gets set to roll out the new Bullet 350 from its Chennai plant on September 1, it will mark yet another significant chapter for the company.

Siddhartha Lal, Managing Director, Eicher Motors — the parent company of Royal Enfield — put it aptly when he told a team of journalists on Wednesday evening, “Bullet is like the North Star for us.” The underlying message was that it was important to give the brand its rightful place in the sun.

According to Lal, Bullet had always been synonymous with Royal Enfield and the time had now come for the company to give something back in return. Over the years, there have been a host of launches like the Thunderbird, Himalayan, Continental, Interceptor and Hunter but Bullet has always been the edifice of the journey.

It was also not too long ago when its association was enough to keep Royal Enfield on top-of-recall among customers’ minds even when it was struggling to sell even 3,000 units a month. The launch of the Classic was a turning point and sales soared. 

The traditional home for Bullet, which was the decades-old facility at Tiruvottiyur in North Chennai, has since paved the way for new, state-of-the-art plants at Oragadam and Vallam Vadagal. The latter will see the new Bullet 350 being rolled out which is tribute to its legacy and enduring appeal.

Strong Connect 

Company officials told Mobility Outlook that the brand still has tremendous traction among India’s younger generation. “Its appeal will never die and this is what makes Bullet so special across every part of the country. This is a brand that has a strong customer connect in large cities and small towns,” they added.

The new Bullet is expected to have some contemporary features so that it is in sync with the needs of today’s customers even while ensuring that its core DNA remains intact. “You just cannot replicate some characteristics of a Bullet elsewhere, which is what gives it a certain halo,” they said.

Royal Enfield has also come a long way and is the clear market leader in the midsize motorcycle segment with annual sales of nearly a million units, a far cry from nearly two decades earlier when its numbers were hardly anything to write home about. The company is now working on an aggressive global strategy which will see ASEAN, Latin America and Europe being the focal points.

RE Bullet

In a previous interaction with this writer, Lal had said that it was Royal Enfield’s intention to promote pure motorcycling where the idea was to be an inclusive, and not elitist, brand. “I believe we can create this wonderful space for a different kind of motorcycling which we call the pure motorcycling experience. It is unadulterated, hardly intimidating and accessible where the bike is built for your joy and not for your ego,” he had elaborated.

Everything being done at Royal Enfield, right from retail to the way people were being trained, was “about making motorcycling more enjoyable, more fun and less of a thought”. According to Lal, there were demographic factors at play in global markets where a lot of people were getting older and urbanisation was not allowing travelling large distances within cities.

Global Mission 

Affordability issues were also prompting buyers to look for something simpler in motorcycles. “Because of all these factors, I believe if we get the right product and overall package, the segment shift will happen which will fit the bill,” he said. From his point of view, all Royal Enfield bikes were for global markets and not specific to any country or region.

“In India, we become the definitive premium bike while in international markets, we become the definitive midsize bike. But it is the same bike and the same story where the brand has to mean one thing across the world,” explained Lal. 

He reiterated that Royal Enfield was not going to markets just to sell a few bikes but participate in those where “we are going to become a meaningful player and with a view to totally revolutionise and reinvigorate” the midsize market. According to Lal, the UK was its starting historical base while the US, Australia and Europe were as relevant. 

“The regions where we will get lots of volumes are the India-like markets which will typically include Latin America and Southeast Asia,” he added. Royal Enfield would be “sticking to our guns and doing what we can do right” as part of the overall objective to rule the midsize world. 

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