In a remarkable volte-face, Indian motorcycle manufacturer Royal Enfield will be expanding its research and development… to the UK!
Royal Enfield was, of course, originally a British company, starting out in 1901 in Reddich (so beating Harley-Davidson as the oldest continually operating motorcycle manufacturer by two years). In 1949 Enfield started selling bikes in India. Then in 1955 the Indian Government selected the 350cc Bullet for its police and military, so Enfield partnered with a local company to form “Enfield India” to build and service the bikes. (To add to the confusion, the UK factory built re-badged bikes for US brand Indian during their final years!)
The Reddich factory closed in early 1967, but the Indian operation kept going; in the process making the Bullet the motorcycle with the longest production run of all time.
Under massive investment plans, the company is now set to build a new technology centre in Leicestershire. “Royal Enfield will be investing Rs 500 crore [just over £52 million] in 2015 towards product development” said Royal Enfield’s CEO Siddhartha Lal. “With a view to become the leader in the global mid-sized motorcycling, Royal Enfield will build two new technology centers.”
Besides the UK centre, another is planned for the Indian city of Chennai, with the two sites said to be coming online in 2015 and 2016 respectively.
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