Royal Enfield on electric motorcycles, ET Auto

Siddhartha Lal, Managing Director, Eicher Motors

New Delhi: Royal Enfield, the motorcycle brand of Eicher Motors, does not plan to debut its electric motorcycle in the current financial year, a top company official has confirmed.

“It might take us a little longer to get the shades and everything just right. We don’t want to do it fast, we want to do it amazing. This is our approach,” Siddhartha Lal, Managing Director, Eicher Motors, told ETAuto during the post-earnings conference call.

Without sharing a specific timeline for the launch, Lal said demand for electric motorcycles is lagging behind electric scooters because they require a larger battery, which means it’s heavy and there’s no packing space. “It’s expensive and doesn’t even compare fairly to gas bikes.”

“Globally, the market is not yet ready for electric motorcycles. And that will be the case because of packaging issues until batteries become much lighter, cheaper and smaller,” he said.

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Last year, the premium motorcycle maker said it would bring the electric motorcycle by 2025.

Royal Enfield is working on two electric motorcycle platforms — one in-house and another in collaboration with Spanish startup Stark Motorcycle. Last November, the company presented its first electric motorcycle at the International Exhibition of Motorcycles and Accessories (EICMA) in Milan, Italy.

In December 2022, the company made a strategic investment in European electric motorcycle manufacturer Stark Future SL. This investment opened up opportunities for a long-term partnership for collaborative research and development in electric motorcycles, technology sharing, technical licensing and manufacturing for Eicher Motors.

While electric scooters have taken the lead in the electric two-wheeler space, the electric motorcycle segment in the country is occupied by a handful of start-up brands that together make around 1000 units. These include Ultraviolette, Revolt, Hop Electric, Tork Motors, Oben, Orxa. In the coming months, companies like Raptee, Matter, Komaki are expected to enter the space.

Meanwhile, conventional players have joint plans, but none have entered the market yet. Market leader Hero MotoCorp is developing electric motorcycles in partnership with US-based electric motorcycle manufacturer Zero Motorcycles. TVS Motor Company has invested in Bengaluru-based Ultraviolette.

When asked if Royal Enfield is also looking at any inorganic growth opportunity, the company denied saying there is nothing other than that. “We are very conservative in this regard. We never say never, but we are not hungry for acquisition. There’s nothing there that interests us at all, right now.”

Premium motorcycle segment

The mid-size motorcycle segment (250-750 cc) in which Royal Enfield operates, registered around 9.36 lakh units in FY24, accounting for 8.1% share of the domestic motorcycle market in India.

Royal Enfield sells 10 products in its portfolio. The Classic and Bullet motorcycle maker has lined up a capital of ₹ 1200 crore for FY25, up from ₹ 1000 crore invested in FY24.

Talking about the increasing competition from other players including Harley Davidson and Triumph and Hero Motocorp, Bajaj Auto entering the premium two-wheeler space, Lal said, “With all the renewed competition, there is more focus on our segment. We believe this competition will increase the size of the market.”

The Royal Enfield product portfolio

By September, Royal Enfield will also introduce an ethanol-powered motorcycle. This comes as part of the government’s increasing pressure on domestic two-wheeler manufacturers to shift to alternative fuel technologies. When asked about considering other options, Lal said, “To that extent, our focus is now on petrol motorcycles and electric vehicles in the future.”

In the quarter ended March 2024, Royal Enfield posted sales of 2.27 lakh units, up 6% from 2.14 lakh units in the year-ago period.

In the long term, the company aims to grow 2X the premium premium motorcycle industry and be the middleweight leader in motorcycles across the globe.

Eicher Motors also sells commercial vehicles through its joint venture Volvo Eicher Commercial Vehicles (VECV).

Eicher on Saturday reported an 18% rise in consolidated profit after tax (PAT) at ₹1,070 crore for Q4 FY24. The company posted a PAT of INR 906 crore in the corresponding period last year. Its total revenue rose 12% to INR 4,256 crore in the January-March quarter of FY24 compared to INR 3,804 crore in the corresponding quarter of FY23.

  • Posted on May 13, 2024 at 08:09 IST

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