In what marks yet another instance of an Indian company taking over an iconic British brand, Chennai-based TVS Motor Company has acquired Norton Motorcycles, in an all-cash deal of 16 million pounds sterling (Rs 145 crore) by acquiring certain assets of Norton Motorcycles (U.K.) through one of TVS Motor’s overseas subsidiaries.
The strategic buyout of Norton Motorcycles, which continues to handbuild its products, reflects TVS Motor Company’s growing aspirations and India’s rapidly rising prominence in the international two-wheeler market. The targeted mission also is the global midsized motorcycle market, which continues to see robust demand, particuarly in Asian economies.
Founded by James Lansdowne Norton, in Birmingham, in 1898, Norton Motorcycles is among the most popular British motorcycle brands of all time and is one of the most emotive marques today. Since the 20th century, Norton Motorcycles is renowned for its classic models and eclectic range of luxury motorcycles ranging from authentic retro classic reboots of the famous Commando to the contemporary 200bhp, 1200cc V4 superbikes.
Commenting on the acquisition, Sudarshan Venu, joint managing director, TVS Motor Co said, “This is a momentous time for us at TVS Motor Company. Norton is an iconic British brand celebrated across the world, and presents us with an immense opportunity to scale globally. This transaction is in line with our effort to cater to the aspirations of discerning motorcycle customers. We will extend our full support for Norton to regain its full glory in the international motorcycle landscape.”
He added, “Norton will continue to retain its distinctive identity with dedicated and specific business plans. TVS Motor will work closely with customers and employees in building the success and pre-eminence of the Norton Motorcycles brand and we look forward to growing together globally in the years to come.”
Norton gets a new charge
TVS Motor Co says it confident of the strong synergy between both the brands. This strategic move will provide Norton Motorcycles its best opportunity in years for a strong resurgence and will enable the British brand to leverage TVS Motor Company’s global reach and supply chain capabilities to expand to new markets.
Norton has had a troubled history for many decades. More recently, insufficient cash flow is said to be one of the reasons why Norton Motorcycles had trouble fulfilling its order book. While Norton's limited-edition V4 SS sold out rapidly despite the huge £44,000 (Rs 40.88 lakh) asking price, the funding required to source parts and build these high-end motorcycles at the company’s Donington Hall factory wasn’t there.
Aiming for more in midsized motorcycle market
Norton had also invested in new mid-capacity, parallel-twin models called the Atlas Nomad and Ranger. These models were slated to be high-volume products for the company but Norton hasn’t managed to finish the expanded space in the factory that was needed for their production.
The Atlas Nomad and Ranger are powered by a 650cc, liquid-cooled, parallel-twin, DOHC motor that develops 84hp at 11,000rpm and 64Nm of torque.
In November 2018, Norton revived its Atlas model name with two scrambler offerings – the Nomad and the Ranger. These impressive-looking bikes are powered by a 650cc, liquid-cooled, parallel-twin, DOHC motor that develops 84hp at 11,000rpm and 64Nm of torque. At the time, Norton had said it would build 250 units of each model and promised to deliver the bikes before end-2019. While the Nomad was priced at £9,995 (Rs 9.21 lakh), the Ranger had a £11,995 (Rs 11.05 lakh) sticker price.
It may be noted that in July 2017 Norton Motorcycles had entered into a 20-year design and licence agreement with Zongshen Manufacturing of China for the 650cc twin-cylinder engine developed by Norton in partnership with Ricardo.
The big news with the 650 twins was that Norton had signed a deal with Pune-based Kinetic Engineering to locally manufacture those products in India for Asian markets. How things progress in that regard now that TVS has taken over will be interesting to see, but it's quite obvious that TVS will want to keep all projects in-house.
(Inputs from Firoze Irani)