Udayavni Special

Is Royal Enfield an Indian company?


Shivani Kava, Feb 7, 2021, 5:07 PM IST

Source: Unsplash

Like many early motorcycle manufacturers, Royal Enfield has its origin in bicycles.

Apart from manufacturing bicycles, it also supplied firearms parts to the British government’s Royal Small Arms Factory.

The legacy of supplying weapons is still reflected in the logo comprising the cannon, and their motto “Made Like A Gun.”

The brand name was created by simply combining ‘Royal’ and the name of the town in which it was located – Enfield in England.

The use of brand name Royal Enfield was licensed by the Crown in 1890.

The first-ever Royal Enfield motorcycle was built in 1901. It was essentially a bicycle with an engine mounted in front of the steering head.

During World War II, Royal Enfield was called upon by British authorities to develop and manufacture military motorcycles.

The company supplied motorcycles built to be dropped out of aeroplanes, known as the “Flying Flea.”

The company also supplied one of its models developed during the wars to the Royal British Army and RAF, which went on to be the ancestor of the legendary Bullet.

In 1932, the legendary Bullet was born and in 1948, it became the first British motorcycle to feature a frame with a rear swingarm, bestowing it with excellent off-road handling, winning multiple International Six Days Trial gold medals and likely making it the model that would save the Royal Enfield brand from extinction.

Even after winning independence from the British in 1947, India remained on good terms with its former ruler.

Royal Enfield motorcycles were sold in India since 1949.

In 1955, when the newly formed Indian government was looking for a suitable motorcycle for the police forces and army’s patrolling duties, Bullet 350 was chosen and soon 800 of them were ordered.

As the Bullet gained enormous popularity in India, Royal Enfield and Madras Motors in India partnered to form Enfield India, with Madras Motors (per Indian law) owning the majority of shares.

Enfield India built Bullets under a licensing agreement. Initially just assembling them and later in 1957, manufacturing components with tooling equipments bought from Royal Enfield.

By 1962, Bullets dominated Indian highways and were completely manufactured domestically.

Even when the British firm closed down, Enfield India kept manufacturing and selling the bikes.

Post the Japanese tsunami in 1970, Enfield India was struggling to stay afloat. Later in 1994, Eicher Motor Group acquired the company.

After the death of Vikram Lal, the founder of Eicher, his son Siddhartha Lal took over as MD and CEO.

Siddhartha went on to rebuild the Royal Enfield brand.

Royal Enfield today is a company 100% owned by Eicher Group in India.

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