Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Royal Enfield makes a spash at LA show

Royal Enfield opened its 2010 invasion of California last weekend with an appearance at the Los Angeles International Motorcycle Show in Long Beach Calif.

The booth it shared with future dealer South Bay Triumph of Lomita was crowded with Royal Enfield motorcycles and potential customers anxious to know more about them.

Spring 2010 will be the first time new Royal Enfields will meet California emissions requirements, and be legal to sell new. Since the motorcycles are unfamiliar, visitors had plenty of questions. A few comments I overheard:

"Are these legal in California?"

"They have a center stand!"

"500cc? Not 650cc?"

"Does it come in black?"

"They sell them in California now?"

"Are these restorations?"

"This is another of those Korean deals."

"They're made in India?"

"Sixty-three ninety-five, that ain't bad at all."

"Well, that's pretty cool."

It sure is. Some people have found ways to bring new Royal Enfields into California, despite the state restrictions, but it was inconvenient and there were no California dealers. Residents of the state were invariably disappointed when they inquired about purchasing a Royal Enfield.

That changes for 2010. When in 2010? I heard the month of March mentioned.

One customer asked his questions from the best seat in the house.

'I know we parked right next to a Harley, somewhere.'

The sales people I spoke to at the motorcycle show were pleased by the turnout Saturday. Los Angeles Times reporter Susan Carpenter pointed out in her story that some manufacturers didn't exhibit this year, including Vespa, KTM and, of course, Buell, which shut down in October.

She said there were 10 per cent fewer motorcycles compared to the previous year, half as many manufacturers offering demonstration rides, and fewer vendors. This reflects the slump in the U.S. economy.

Royal Enfield, meanwhile, is expanding production in India and entering new markets worldwide. Quite a different story.

In the United States, whatever the effect on sales, expansion into California will certainly increase attention to Royal Enfield. The state traditionally sets the style for the rest of the nation.

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