A few months ago, at the international unveiling of the new 650 Twins, Royal Enfield CEO Sidhhartha Lal revealed that the company would not shy away from electric bikes when the time was right. Well, it now looks like the company believes that the time may not be so far away after all. The company's president, Rudratej Singh was recently quoted as saying, “Royal Enfield has several projects in the pipeline and the electric platform is one of them. We are in an investment phase in the project where we have a team that is working on different ideas and concepts with a long-term focus. We will disclose our plans at an appropriate time."
What does this mean for the brand?
Royal Enfield has always been associated with old-school motorcycling, and it will surely continue to be so as long as the laws of the land allow it. Still, this move might come as a surprise, but going by the market trend, it may also be an early step in the right direction. After all, the company isn’t exactly switching over to a new form of propulsion entirely, but it's already begun to prepare for an inevitable future.
Another old-school bike maker, Harley-Davidson, has also been actively working on an electric platform for the past few years and had showcased the LiveWire concept a few years ago. The bike manufacturer even announced that a production version of the electric bike is set to make its debut by late 2019. It’s interesting to see that the old-school, heritage driven brands appear to be taking the plunge before many mainstream manufacturers.
What should we expect?
At the moment, there’s no indicative timeline for RE’s electric platform development, but don’t expect to see a production bike before 2020. But what will an electric Royal Enfield be like? Well, it’s fair to expect that the motorcycle will be all about enormous torque delivery. This will suit the Royal Enfield character well, and while loyalists will definitely miss the iconic thump, they’re just going to have to come to terms with the fact that the future of automobiles is going to be brisk, but quiet!
Apart from the electric bike, Rudratej Singh also confirmed that they are working on two platforms that will replace existing ones to meet the upcoming BS-VI emission norms. Since the upcoming Royal Enfield 650cc twins are already scalable to the next generation of emission norms, it’s likely that the Classic, Thunderbird and Himalayan series are the ones that will be updated.
The Classic 350 is Royal Enfield’s bread and butter motorcycle and makes up a huge chunk of its sales. It’s likely that RE will try to maintain the retro styling of the Classic 350 and 500 while endowing them with modern features like LED lighting, ABS, and better cycle parts, apart from a BS-VI-compliant engine. We’d love to see improved refinement to go with this. The same should apply to the Thunderbird and Himalayan platforms.