OEMs with cult following such as Royal Enfield face the big question regarding their acceptability in electric format
Disruptive technologies have always been a challenge for established brands and something similar is happening in automotive space. EV tech is decades old, but it’s only now that it is gaining momentum and going mainstream.
Most profound changes can be seen in two-wheeler segment that has witnessed multiple new EV brands launched over the last few years. Bestsellers in this space are startups and tech companies, which presents significant challenges for established OEMs like Royal Enfield.
Royal Enfield electric bike
In view of the inevitable shift to an EV ecosystem and related challenges, Royal Enfield has started testing its EV prototypes. These tests are being conducted at various locations across the globe. Investments have been made for creating dedicated infrastructure, as needed for testing electric two-wheelers. Royal Enfield has also been hiring relevant people for its technology centres located in India and UK.
While it has stepped-up focus on developing its electric bikes, the first Royal Enfield electric motorcycle won’t be launched before 2025. That’s because the company wants to come up with a differentiated product offering. The brand is all about the joy of motorcycling and it has consistently delivered with a wide range of options in 350cc to 650cc segment. Royal Enfield naturally wants to achieve similar results when it comes to its EV range.
Working with partners and suppliers, Royal Enfield has the wherewithal to quickly launch an electric bike. However, that’s not the primary goal for the company. Royal Enfield is working to first understand what exactly are the requirements of buyers in EV space. It will allow the company to develop well-rounded products, just like its current range of petrol-powered motorcycles. Royal Enfield will develop multiple EV platforms to ensure a diversified portfolio of electric bikes.
Although there’s limited info, expect the first of Royal Enfield electric bikes to have capabilities similar to that of a 250-300cc ICE bike. It will be suitable for city commutes. Electric cruisers and ADVs could be launched at a later date. However, if there’s any major breakthrough in battery technology in next two years, a longer-range product can also be considered.
2k crore investment
While not much may be visible on the surface, the fact is that Royal Enfield is working proactively to develop its EV range. Evidence to that can be seen in PLI scheme application, wherein both Royal Enfield and its parent company Eicher Motors have indicated investments worth Rs 2,000 crore. These investments will be spread over a period of five years. Preference for PLI scheme shows that Royal Enfield is getting ready to play the numbers game in electric two-wheeler segment.
While it is getting ready for EV space, Royal Enfield will continue to focus on ICE-based motorcycles. Some of the most awaited Royal Enfield bikes include Himalayan 450 and Super Meteor 650. A 650cc scrambler is also under development.