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Monday, January 6, 2014

The New York Times notes growth of Royal Enfield

The new Continental GT takes Royal Enfield to the world.
The New York Times business page last week lavished attention on Royal Enfield in an article entitled "A Cult Motorcycle From India Takes On The World."

Samanth Subramanian, a New Delhi-based writer, noted the explosive growth of Royal Enfield production and sales in India, and added:

"The company is now looking to push harder into British and American markets, hoping to follow in the wake of other Indian motor vehicle manufacturers that have competed hard with overseas brands even as their peers in other industries have struggled."

That sentence seems to be the only one omitted from the article when it was picked up from the New York Times News Service by The Times of India.

Perhaps The Times of India editors just wanted to get more swiftly to the following paragraph. In it, Royal Enfield boss Siddhartha Lal described the new Continental GT cafe racer as "the first bike that we've developed keeping the world market in mind."

Or maybe the Indian editors considered talk of exports still preliminary. The article quoted Lal as saying that, last year, Royal Enfield exported 3,500 motorcycles, of which 600 went to America, its biggest overseas market.

These are small numbers compared to the quarter-million motorcycles the article predicts Royal Enfield will build in 2014.

One-time U.S. dealer Dan Holmes of Goshen, Ind. told The New York Times about his early days selling Royal Enfield Bullets after they were re-introduced here in 1995.

In 2003, his best year, Holmes sold 35, the article states. No longer a dealer, Holmes long ago took his love for the Bullet to the Bonneville Salt Flats to attempt to pursue speed records instead of sales records.

In preparing his article, Subramanian interviewed me about Royal Enfield's prospects in the U.S. I wasn't quoted in the article but, on the phone with him, I described the situation as I experience it here in Florida: I rarely see another Royal Enfield on the road.

Rather than going for mass rides together, U.S. Bulleteers typically meet only in online forums, I said.

The Continental GT's broad appeal — and attention from The New York Times — could help change that.

Subramanian, who told me his home town is Chennai — headquarters of Royal Enfield India — obviously understands the status of the Bullet in India.

It's " a cult product for enthusiasts who love it for its vintage feel as much as for the thrum of its engine," he wrote.

But when he asked me how I first learned about the Bullet, I described how, already into middle age, I read about it in my local newspaper!

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