Correction: Since publication, the news about Royal Enfield’s British plans have been clarified – find out more here.
Royal Enfield, the marque on a mission, is making a surprise return to its British roots.
After years of marginalization as a maker of novelty machines outside its Indian home market, Royal Enfield is on a path of seemingly unstoppable expansion these days, poaching top talent from the other OEMs and seeing huge sales growth. Part of that sales growth is due to increased production capacity, and that capacity is expanding yet again – to the UK.
Reports say Royal Enfield is going to build a new factory in England this year, somewhere in Leicestershire. If you’re saying, “Hey – waitaminnit,” that’s a natural reaction, because of course, Royal Enfield’s roots are in England. The last British factory closed down in 1970, but the Indian arm of the company soldiered on and has been building bikes ever since their factory opened in 1956.
Supposedly, the move to an English factory is to keep up with demand; it could prove to be an ingenious ploy, as it would allow Royal Enfield to use first-world workers to build a machine that would be intended for their local market. British manufacturers know what British buyers want, and would perhaps remove some of the stigma of buying a “made-in-India” machine. A made-in-England Royal Enfield would be a true Brit bike.
Along with the new factory in the UK, Royal Enfield is also building another new plant in India; the latest addition will open in Chennai sometime in 2016.