Royal Enfield Says Not The Right Time To Launch Electric Motorbike
The Royal Enfield logo is displayed on the headlight of a Desert Storm motorcycle on display at the Eicher Motors Ltd. Royal Enfield flagship dealership in Gurgaon, India. (Photographer Prashanth Vishwanathan/Bloomberg)

Royal Enfield Says Not The Right Time To Launch Electric Motorbike

Royal Enfield, India’s No. 1 cruise motorbike maker, won't consider launching an electric variant in the coming few years even as Indian auto manufacturers and global peers brace for a battery-powered future.

“There is no delay from our side. Our plan is not to come to the (EV) market right now,” Siddhartha Lal, managing director of Eicher Motors Ltd., the parent of Royal Enfield, said in response to a query by BloombergQuint during the company’s call after announcing first-quarter results.

The maker of the Classic doesn’t see "value proposition" for electric motorcycles in India yet. “It will be there in few years, but certainly not there yet,” he said, adding that the company has no products to launch at this point.

In an investor call later, Lal said an EV equivalent still may cost double and it's not really the right time as unit economics do not work. "We are extremely bullish about EVs and it is in the five- to seven-year horizon a lot more will happen in Royal Enfield."

Lal, responding to media queries earlier, said Royal Enfield will work on the right product range and be prepared when the time is ready. “We only have sights on the long terms of where we want to be, we don’t do anything half-backed or dipping your toe into the market, that’s not our philosophy at all," he said. "We will come in with sorted products, ecosystem and business models.”

India's two-wheeler industry is excited about the future of EVs after the government increased incentives under the second phase of its FAME scheme and states have begun to offer additional sops.

Not just startups like Ather Energy, Okinawa Autotech or Hero Electric, ride-sharing company Ola too has developed an electric scooter. Bajaj Auto Ltd. already has its electric Chetak in the market and plans a separate EV unit, while TVS Motor Co. launched iQube electric scooter and will invest Rs 1,000 crore on battery-powered vehicles. Apart from its electric unit, Hero MotoCorp Ltd., India's largest two-wheeler maker, has invested in Ather Energy and has a joint venture with Gogoro Inc to build battery-swapping infrastructure.

Even the U.S. cult motorbike maker Harley Davidson launched an electric motorcycle, LiveWire, earlier this year.

Lal said it doesn’t matter if competition has lined up products. “Our approach is different. We believe we have a very strong thought process, philosophy and a game plan, and in terms of new product coming into the market the execution will be quite a while later.”

Chip Shortage Delays New Launches

Meanwhile, the global chip shortage issue has impacted the company’s new launches, he said. Already the crisis, coupled with Covid-led disruption, has hurt its ability to produce more vehicles and meet demand.

“We had to pushback certain launches by a month or two due to shortages," Lal told reporters. He said the delay is to ensure the company has enough stock available.

Also read: Indian Automakers Brace For The Worst Of The Chip Shortage

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