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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Royal Enfield's new factory will bring new awareness

Royal Enfield will build a new plant near Chennai, India capable of building 150,000 motorcycles a year once it is completed in 2013.

The announcement is the natural sequel to the ongoing story of Royal Enfield's inability to meet surging demand in India. Even with the present factory turning out 70,000 motorcycles a year, customers in India can wait seven months to get the Royal Enfield they've ordered.

A modern factory naturally implies improved products. In addition, CEO Dr. Venki Padmanabhan apparently encouraged The Hindu to speculate that, with economies of scale at the new factory, Royal Enfield could "pack more value into the vehicles, perhaps more than the competition."

The results would be motorcycles that appeal to a wider audience, world wide.

Royal Enfield made its announcement July 12. It's too soon to guess when some of that increased production will begin to muscle into the U.S. market.

However, it is apparent that the once simple story of Royal Enfield as "the motorcycle they just forgot to stop making" is over. This quaint little tale was always something of a fantasy. Royal Enfield was well known in India. It's just that nobody outside India was paying attention.

Now, with a new factory and growing respect for India in every aspect of the world economy, U.S. customers will expect Royal Enfield to take its place among better known brands.

Someday, Royal Enfield owners here will look back on the years before 2013 with nostalgia. We'll remember the days when other motorists would yell "An Enfield? What's that?"

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