MUMBAI: The acquisition of iconic British motorcycle brand Norton brings the Chennai-based TVS Motor Company Ltd face-to-face with Royal Enfield in the niche category of age-old classic motorcycles not only in India but also in Europe and the UK, the original home market for both the brands. Besides access to a premium heritage brand, TVS Motor’s Norton deal brings to its table technological capabilities to make bigger engines - especially two- and four-cylinder powertrains, umbrellas like Commando and Dominator range, several new models in the pipeline and an immediate credible entry into the lucrative UK and other European markets. Meanwhile, in India, TVS Motor would look to directly compete with Royal Enfield, which sells bikes across 350cc-650cc engine capacities and continues to command 96% share in the domestic midsize motorcycle segment, according to the FY20 data released by Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (Siam). This growth was led by a robust demand for Royal Enfield motorcycles, as the brand enjoyed a near-monopoly position, commanding the loyalty of a large pool of customers that included newly employed young professionals, riders upgrading from smaller 150cc-220cc models, among others. “Although, it is too early to forecast but whenever locally made Nortons make their way into the Indian market, the brand will largely pull motorcyclists who currently ride Royal Enfields," said a senior executive at a leading two-wheeler company who did not want to be named. One-and-a half-year ago, Royal Enfield had launched 650cc twin-cylinder bikes -- Continental GT and Interceptor models ¬¬-- as upgrade options for its existing customers. “Royal Enfield will see a lot of competition in its category starting 2022 when Bajaj-Triumph will launch its models and Jawa and BSA would have consolidated their brands. After announcing the takeover, Sudarshan Venu, joint managing director, TVS Motor Company, told Mint the first priority would be to restore the operational continuity for the troubled British bikemaker as soon as possible. The brand will continue to hold its distinct identity and we plan to restore Norton’s glory and build upon it," Venu said, adding that the deal includes only asset transfers and no liabilities. The business would be profitable from day one," Venu said, but refused to disclose timeline for India manufacturing of Norton bikes.
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