Royal Enfield's Siddhartha Lal talks about 'Himalayan'

Siddhartha Lal, MD and CEO, Eicher Motors Ltd says that it is going to take Royal Enfield a decade to ride a success wave of demand internationally, but with his International and India team, he's more than confident.
Siddhartha Lal, MD and CEO, Eicher Motors Ltd

Royal Enfield launched Himalayan, an all-terrain 411-cc motorcycle, earlier this year in the first of the two new engine model platforms the company is developing. “Honest” as the owners define it, and sleek, Himalayan is a motorcycle Enfield is working on for the last five years. In the past few years, the company, promising to come out with more models under the two engine platforms, has seen a steady expansion of its global footprint in cities like London, Paris, Dubai, Bogota, Madrid and Medellin.

Its two new technology centres, one in India and another one in the UK, are being set up to push the brand’s long-term strategy. Separately, its plans to produce up to 9 lakh motorcycles by the end of 2018 will see another manufacturing facility in Tamil Nadu, in addition to the two existing ones. Royal Enfield CEO Siddhartha Lal said that, with the new bike Himalayan, “the agenda was to build a motorcycle that that could do on-road as well as off-road, in that sense while it can do all kinds of different road conditions it cannot be called ‘extreme’.” Retailer spoke to Siddhartha on the new motorcycle and much more. 

Is the Himalayan slated to go overseas? When?
Right now Himalayan is just targeted for India. As of today, we have 500 dealerships so there is clearly a lot that needs to be achieved. By end of the year, we will identify the export markets and get it into them. But right now, we will just concentrate on Indian market. And by the end of this year, we will start identifying the export markets we will be working to get Himalayan into. And of course, it is slated to go overseas but for now, we will just concentrate on India.

When will you make it available at showrooms and what’s its indicative price?
In the middle of March one will get to ride this motorcycle and that’s when we will launch it commercially. And by the end of this month we will make it available at most of the showrooms across India.

What’s the idea behind making a bike to suit the rough terrain?
We wanted to make adventure touring more accessible. We’ve spent many years developing and designing this motorcycle. We have got a very specific kind of chassis built which is purpose built for this kind of application. So that it can get tough for really difficult road locations and get ready for longer rides. There’s been an extensive amount of research that’s been done in the Himalayas and in the UK, where we also have our tech centre. We have spent a lot of time in fine tuning the chassis for a perfect geometry, so this testing and validation has gone on for over the course of two years before the actual launch.

What are your global expansion plans?
For us it’s like a 10-year plan and we are working on it. We are going to do something right we are going to do something wrong, but we are committed so we have built an outstanding team in India and globally. The international team is working on the international market. It takes time to become a global brand and it is going to take us a decade to build a globally recognised brand.

Talk us through the design of the Himalayan.
I’m very excited about the Himalayan. What excites me the most about it is that it conjures up the aspiration for many more enthusiasts and trendsetters and here’s a motorcycle that looks its part and is not intimidating. The integral part of the build was the suspension, the bike is wide and strong, and overall, it is a very honest looking bike with a simple design.

Siddhartha Lal