Only four to five years from now, according to Siddhartha Lal, MD of Eicher, Royal Enfield will introduce electric vehicles.
Royal Enfield would only release an electric motorbike on the market in four to five years, according to Siddhartha Lal, MD of Eicher Motors Limited (EML), at a time when two-wheeler manufacturers are aggressively developing electric vehicles (EV) for the Indian market.
Although Royal Enfield has begun some work on EV development, he added that the finished product will be "something extraordinary and distinctive."
Lal stated during an investor meeting, "We have been working on our EV plan for 3–4 years. Understanding customer preferences, technology, how it fits into people's life, how to get the most of electric bikes, etc., has taken a lot of work.
"We won't go the easy route and take a Classic, put a battery pack in it, and hope for the best. It won't be a copy-and-paste task. We'll examine the most effective ways to use electric technology.
Lal said, "Others of the work is in early phases of development, some at the idea stage. This sheds some light on the EV journey thus far. We are developing a number of distinct concepts for electric vehicles. They still have a ways to go. We'll also keep an eye on how the law develops.
Lal said that he believes electric bikes would mostly join the market at lower levels (100-125 cc), and subsequently go higher, in response to an analyst's question regarding the company's reluctance to take on electric powertrain projects.
Battery size, cost, and weight are issues. Enormous bikes require big batteries, which are both highly expensive and very heavy. Today, that is not a tenable value proposition, he continued.
Lal, a third-generation car entrepreneur, assumed control of Eicher Motors in 2000 at the age of just 26. Within ten years, he completely changed the company, revitalising the flagging Royal Enfield motorbike brand and making it the industry leader in the local middle-weight segment.
The company's sales rocketed to nearly 800,000 motorcycles in FY18 from only 29,475 bikes in 2005. The oldest continuously operating motorcycle manufacturer, Royal Enfield, controls more than 85% of the middleweight (250+ cc) market.
"Even in India's 125+ cc market, we sell one in every three bikes. Back then, it wasn't the case. Of the ten motorcycles in that category, we only sold one.
"The market for motorcycles as a whole, where we own a 5–6% market share, is an opportunity. We think that customers will change and that the premiumization trend will continue, so there is a lot of space for growth," said Lal, who also said that the recently released 350 cc Hunter (priced at Rs. 1.49 lakh) will draw both first-time riders and those upgrading from the commuter category.
In foreign areas including North America, the UK, Europe, the UAE, Asia Pacific, and Latin America, Lal seeks to expand the RE brand.