Battle of the Brands: Royal Enfield passes Harley-Davidson’s global sales

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The Royal Enfield Continental GT is a modern-day incarnation of their original factory cafe racer.

Royal Enfield is taking advantage of their new manufacturing capacity to go on a worldwide sales rampage.

According to multiple news sources from India, Royal Enfield sold 302,591 motorcycles globally last year. That’s up from 178,121 in 2013 and 113,432 in 2012 – impressive growth for sure (around 70 per cent), and certainly not seen by any other large-scale manufacturer on today’s market.

To further emphasize the growth, compare Royal Enfield’s numbers to Harley-Davidson in that same time period. Harley-Davidson sold 267,999 worldwide in 2014, according to their own numbers. That was up 2.7 per cent from 2013’s 260,839 global sales.

Of course, the single biggest reason for Royal Enfield’s sales boom is their increased manufacturing capacity; in previous years, the company had long waiting lists for new bikes. Now they’re able to keep up with demand.

But the company has gone far beyond simply boosting production (they’re currently working on a third plant). They’ve also brought out what’s possibly the best-looking factory cafe racer in years in the Continental GT; they’ve added fuel injection across their lineup, and generally boosted their reputation for reliability. And, they’ve even gone so far as to hire legendary designer Pierre Terblanche, indicating they’re working on exciting new models for the future.

In the past, Royal Enfield’s big boss (CEO Siddhartha Lal) has said he envisions the midsized motorcycle market (250 cc-750 cc) as being the segment with most growth in coming years, and that’s where his company plans to focus – he said they want to be first or second in that market around the globe. An ambitious goal, for sure, but the company is certainly growing by leaps and bounds these days.

What does this all mean for Canadian buyers, though? Rumour had it Royal Enfield did well in our market last year, particularly after they lowered prices, but North America doesn’t seem to be a priority for the company at the moment. From what we’ve seen and heard, the company is first focusing on developing markets, particularly Latin America, which is sensible.

Down there, people don’t think they need a litre bike to earn respect from their friends, and the somewhat agricultural design of much of the Royal Enfield lineup means home tinkerers and backwoods mechanics will be able to keep the machines on the street despite adverse road conditions.

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