Royal Enfield is about three years away from launching its first electric bike, but work has already begun at the company’s R&D centres. In 2018, the then-president of the company confirmed that prototypes of a Royal Enfield electric bike were being built at the UK R&D centre which was the first indication that RE was not taking the trend of electric motorcycles casually.
The first Royal Enfield electric bike’s style remains in ultimate secrecy. However, the media speculation is that the Classic gets electrified first, and accordingly, we have rendered the first Royal Enfield electric bike as a conversion of the next-generation Classic which comes out in 2021.
The Royal Enfield Classic is the bread and butter model for the company, and it has to move with the times this decade to stay relevant in the global marketplace. We imagine the EV with the same design but a revised styling to emphasize its ‘green’ nature. Teal Blue and Gloss Black dual-tone body paint, eco alloy wheels, LED headlamps featuring LED DRLs and LED turn indicators. The battery pack is imagined as a large, non-removable unit in place of the powertrain that would give riders sufficient range for inter-city trips. The charging port is located on the top where the fuel cap goes.
Royal Enfield may introduce several electric variants on the ICE platforms as a way to move up the learning curve before designing a dedicated platform for electric bikes.
As per a November 2019 report on ETAuto.com, Royal Enfield’s electric bike plans appeared to be healthy as the newly appointed CEO Vinod Dasari counted it in when mentioning spends of the 2.0 plan:
Just because there was a downturn, we did not cut down on our capex. I don’t think we’ll spend any more on any large (facility). Most of our capex will go into capability building, new products, electric and other stuff. And it will also go into many small assembly plants around the world
The same month Dasari went on to add that he had ridden a Royal Enfield electric prototype, and this is what he had to say to CNBC-TV18.com:
Royal Enfield’s UK tech centre had rigged up an existing product into an electric motorcycle and it’s fantastic, I have driven it myself.
Not in a hurry with EVs, may take two to three years to launch one but want to get it right. Looking to maintain the Royal Enfield DNA in the electric segment. Who knows you may have a retro-styled electric Royal Enfield.Vinod Dasari, CEO of Royal Enfield on November 2019.
Note that what Dasari has ridden last year is a prototype that is used to test and assess a concept and could be far different from what finally arrives on the market. By “DNA of Royal Enfield,” Dasari maybe referring in his interviews to the ruggedness of the vehicle and one that is built for leisure-riding, self-discovery and long voyages as any obsessed Royal Enfield fan would tell you, so the fundamentals of the battery-operated Royal Enfield would be as they are today.
Royal Enfield Electric Bike team expansion
In August 2020, MoneyControl.com had spoken to the chief executive who confirmed that the Royal Enfield Electric Bike plan is progressing. He said that Electric is “something that we take very seriously” and it was studying which segment would be the right fit for it to make an entry. The company has looked at several segments and will be expanding the EV team working on the project in the near future. Dasari repeated that the company had built several electric prototypes.
In a story on ET Prime in November 2020, Dasari reported further progress, and already good recruitment and internal training has happened on the EV front. Dasari conceded that it was not a priority for Royal Enfield to be the leader in electric vehicles as the company thinks that legislation to make EVs viable is about 5 years away and globally the market is still small. That said the first Royal Enfield electric bike is expected in 2-3 years.
Siddhartha Lal confirms details on the Royal Enfield electric bike
In an interview to Economic Times published on December 1, 2020, Siddhartha Lal, the MD & CEO of Eicher which owns Royal Enfield, confirmed a couple of new details on the electric motorcycle project. Lal said Royal Enfield certainly won’t be the first company to introduce an electric motorcycle as the team tasked with the EV development is studying the market and understanding the electric technology. Lal confirmed there was now a full team at the company for EVs and that they were putting together test mules, prototypes and going through the early stages of development of the new technology.
Lal also confirmed that Royal Enfield will present concept motorcycles, but stopped short of saying when and where. The company’s last concept motorcycle, the Royal Enfield Concept KX, drew global attention at the EICMA 2018 in Milan, and such a global stage would be fitting to unveil anything new on the EV front.
A production Royal Enfield Electric bike may not be expected until late-2023, and though development teams are working frantically on it, there is no tearing rush to enter the market and “do a silly job,” says the pragmatic Lal.
Royal Enfield EV part of the 28 new planned bikes
ET Prime reports that Royal Enfield is looking at various technologies and different options for the motors. The company is developing electric motorcycles that would have the range, speed and torque that one comes to expect from a vehicle of this class. Fast-charging is a feature that would be available to customers as they can get ready for the remainder of the journey during the halt at the services without having to wait too long for the battery to charge.
Speaking to PTI in early November 2020, Dasari said that the company was investing several hundred crores in its business and that funds would be utilized for new products, digital solutions and electric vehicles. He said the main chunk of the capex would be to develop new products as the existing production capacities were sufficient for the next two to three years.
The company has chalked out 28 launches in the middle weight segment and it is clear today that even the Royal Enfield electric bike would compete in the mid-segment category. The company plans to have 1 launch every quarter and complete the sequence in seven years.
It could be that Royal Enfield is planning several electric motorcycle models on a single platform and we should get new details on the project in 2021. The company plans to spend INR 200-500 crore each year on products, network, digitisation, international expansion and EVs.
When will the Royal Enfield electric bike launch?
Given that RE has commenced the project, expect the first Royal Enfield electric bike in showrooms in late-2023 in the mid-segment.
Royal Enfield could go for considerable light-weighting measures and focus on aerodynamics to extract the highest performance from the electric bike. A touchscreen TFT display and a smartphone app that connects users to the motorcycle’s vitals are sure-shot features on Royal Enfield electric bike. One can expect it to arrive with a fixed 8-10 kWh battery pack connected to a motor that develops about 40 hp & 100 Nm. Royal Enfield is likely to target a much higher range than today’s offerings, expect it with at least 200 km of travel possible in a single charge.
It won’t just be Royal Enfield that would sell an electric bike around 2023. Classic Legends, it was reported in July, has started developing its electric motorcycle which could either be a Jawa electric bike or resurrect the Yezdi brand while the Anand Mahindra-backed BSA is expected to unveil its electric bike towards late 2021.