Royal Enfield has recently acquired a 60-acre land parcel in Cheyyar, on the outskirts of Chennai, to expand its production capacity for both internal combustion engine (ICE) and electric motorcycles. This move comes as the company aims to cater to its growing global ambitions and foray into the electric vehicle (EV) segment.
Sources reveal that the new facility is likely to be the key production base for Royal Enfield’s two-wheeled EVs in the future, and the company is expected to invest between Rs 1,000 to Rs 1,500 crore ($13 to $20 million USD) in the next 12-24 months towards expanding both its product portfolio and manufacturing capacity.
While Royal Enfield’s existing plants in Oragadam and Vallam Vadagal have a combined manufacturing capacity of over a million units per annum and are capable of meeting growing demand for the next few years, the company’s aggressive global expansion and diversification into EVs call for it to be future-capacity-ready.
The first electric motorcycle is expected to roll out from a dedicated setup within the existing Vallam Vadagal plant, but the company has already begun work at the Cheyyar plot to ensure a smooth transition to EVs as and when the portfolio of zero-emission models are developed and ready for rollout.
Furthermore, Royal Enfield has already set up a dedicated EV team led by Umesh Krishnappa, who is the CTO steering the project. The company is working on two different EV architectures – an in-house-developed (codename L1A) EV, which is likely to hit the roads in FY2024-25, and an EV platform of Stark Motorcycle, a Spanish EV start-up in which Royal Enfield’s parent Eicher Motors acquired an equity stake.
“The EV team is working like a start-up, and hence the company brought on board Umesh Krishnappa, the previous CTO from Ola, to define the roadmap. The product portfolio is a slight departure from Royal Enfield’s current DNA. The portfolio is being developed with a big emphasis on creating a model that is compact, light and high on performance,” said one of the sources aware of the company’s plans.
Royal Enfield is taking a steady and surefooted approach towards its EV foray, and Managing Director of Eicher Motors, Siddhartha Lal, has always maintained that the company does not envisage being the first mover and is fine with entering the EV market later with a differentiated offering.
A Royal Enfield spokesperson had earlier told Autocar Professional that the company has made huge strides in its “EV journey” over the past few years, with several ideas in “advanced stages of testing.” Royal Enfield’s approach to developing an electric motorcycle has been different, and the company has spent considerable time studying and understanding the market and customers, strategically working on its EV portfolio and business model.