Norton, the 122-year-old iconic British motorcycle brand has a new owner – Indian two-wheeler major TVS Motor. The Chennai-headquartered company acquired the Castle Donington, UK-based Norton Motorcycles for 16 million pounds sterling or Rs 145 crore, on Friday. However, before TVS, it was Kinetic, another Indian company with experience in the two-wheeler industry, which was Norton’s partner from India.
On November 15, 2017, Norton Motorcycles inked a partnership with Motoroyale Kinetic to launch Norton motorcycles in India. Ajinkya Firodia, MD, Motoroyale Kinetic is “hopeful” that Kinetic’s association with Norton will continue, though not the same way as it was till recently. Motoroyale Kinetic is the Pune-based Kinetic Group’s business arm dealing in multiple superbike brands – MV Agusta, Norton, FB Mondial, SWM and Hyosung.
Motoroyale likely to continue retailing Norton
With Norton now coming under the ownership of TVS, the brand will exit Motoroyale’s sales network of around 7 dealers. These dealers, however, may get an opportunity to retail Norton motorcycles again under a different arrangement with TVS.
For Motoroyale, it’s one brand less in its portfolio, but the acquisition because of which it will also have a new distribution model is the right thing to happen for the brand, feels Firodia. “They (TVS) have the scale in India and overseas. They have been in the business for so long. They have quality control systems, so they can really do justice to the Norton brand and make it as big as any other international brand,” he tells Autocar Professional. His Motoroyale business will continue with the existing brands.
Among the brands Motoroyale deals in, it’s only Norton Motorcycles with which it had a joint venture. The JV, signed in November 2017, was active till recently. In November 2018, Motoroyale launched the limited-edition Norton Dominator and Commando, made exclusively for the Indian market. With a price-tag of up to Rs 25 lakh, three units were sold in the same year. After the launch of the exclusive models, plans for a bigger play for Norton were co-planned by Norton Motorcycles and Motoroyale.
Norton's Atlas Nomad and Ranger motorcyles are powered by a 650cc, liquid-cooled, parallel-twin, DOHC motor that develops 84hp at 11,000rpm and 64Nm of torque.
Upcoming Atlas series to see production under TVS
Key moves under the new plans were to develop new platforms for Norton models catering to a wider audience, globally. These were to be engineered in UK and built in India. The first one, a 650cc project called Atlas, was showcased in 2018 and was scheduled for a commercial launch this year.
“I’m hopeful that TVS will continue that,” says Firodia. Motoroyale, along with sister company Kinetic Engineering had already developed components, including the frame, for the Atlas 650. “We will continue the efforts that we have done for them (Norton), and supply these and help them in making the product, which was the vision,” says Firodia. The vision, discussed between Firodia and Stuart Garner, Norton Motorcycles’ owner-CEO then, was to grow Norton into a global brand.
As reported earlier by Autocar Professional, the JV partners were also planning for the Norton brand to enter the volume segment of the premium motorcycle market. Midsize engines ranging from 300 to 500cc were planned to be developed for these motorcycles.
With a growing market trend of midsize motorcycles in India and many markets around the world, it’s likely that the growth plans for Norton, made before the latest acquisition, will continue. As Sudarshan Venu, joint MD, TVS Motor, says in the press statement on Friday, “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.” It’s also likely that the association of Kinetic with the Norton brand will continue, as a supplier partner.