Royal Enfield plans diesel bikes


With competition getting intense, India's oldest motorcycle manufacturing company, Royal Enfield, is exploring newer segments, with the idea of bigger engines and diesel variants.

Based at Chennai and also the smallest two-wheeler company in India by volumes, it is looking to upgrade to the segment of 750cc engines and above in the coming years. A division of Delhi-based Eicher Motors, it does not face competition from any manufacturer for the class of motorcycles it makes, with engine capacities of 350cc and 500cc.



Venkatesh Padmanabhan, chief executive, said, “It makes sense for us to move into that (750cc, twin cylinder bikes) category. So many bike companies have been entering India and competition has just begun. However, things are at a very early stage, as neither the volumes from that segment or the commercials seem encouraging.”

Enfield is planning to bring diesel-powered bikes back into the Indian market, a project for which work is on. It was the first two-wheeler manufacturer to introduce diesel bikes, in the late 1990s. At present, demand is far above the company’s capacity. Though it is tuned to an optimum capacity of 75,000 units per annum, the waiting period on some of its models such as the Classic range is almost 12 months in markets scuh as Mumbai. So, it is establishing a new facility near Chennai, to become operational by the first quarter of 2013. Spread over 50 acres, it will have a capacity of 150,000 units per annum.

Amongst new launches, the firm has planned street versions of the Cafe Racer concept, to be introduced over the next 12-18 months. This concept was first showcased by the company in the 2010 Auto Expo in Delhi.