Enfield stops fresh bookings till year-end

Enfield stops fresh bookings till year-end

New Delhi: It took more than two months for 35-year-old N. Naren, a Dehradun-based structural engineer, to lay his hands on a Royal Enfield Classic 500 motorcycle.

Naren, who placed his order on 4 November when bookings for the bike opened in India, took delivery in January.

Demand from customers like Naren has led Royal Enfield taking the unusal step of discontinuing bookings for its fast-selling Classic 350 model.

As Indians increasingly take to biking for pleasure, sales of premium bikes have risen quickly. Royal Enfield has benefited hugely from this trend.

The 500cc bike made its debut in India nearly a year and a half after its debut in European and US markets in October 2008.

The Classic 350 has received 2,000 orders—far in excess of what the company had projected. An additional 3,000 customers have ordered the Classic 500.

Bookings were closed last month and will stay closed for the rest of the year, a company spokeswoman said.

While bookings for the Classic 500 bike are still open, deliveries can take up to six months due to the long waiting list.

The company will only begin to take new orders once the present order book has been fulfilled.

Royal Enfield makes 300 motorcycles of each model for the domestic market every month at its factory in Thiruvottiyur in Tamil Nadu. An additional 350 bikes a month are exported to Europe and the US.

The company plans to increase its capacity to 100,000 units a year by 2012, a growth of 67% from the 60,000 bikes it aims to make in 2010.

Royal Enfield has also beefed up its number of dealers to 160 across the country. “We are making steady improvements in terms of infrastructure, manpower and processes to improve our production," the spokeswoman said.

The market for superbikes—motorcycles with a large displacement that allows them to accelerate quickly—has been closer to 500 units a year compared with 350 that companies such as Suzuki Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. Ltd had forecast.

Companies have in the past been forced to discontinue bookings for popular models. Last year, Toyota Kirloskar Motor Pvt. Ltd stopped taking orders for its Fortuner sports utility vehicle as it received 5,000 orders within a month of its launch.