Everything's official about it now. The 119-year-old British motorcycle brand Norton today formally signed a new international collaboration with the Pune-based Kinetic Group's Motoroyale. The 51:49 percent joint venture, which will assemble and market Norton motorcycles in Kinetic’s Ahmednagar plant, will be based in Pune and will target sales in India and ASEAN free trade countries. While Norton will provide the IP and design/engineering for current and future models to the joint venture, Motoroyale will offer localisation, homologation and manufacturing support.
The Product & Manufacturing Strategy
The JV will begin operations with the launch of the Commando series by end-2018 for India and ASEAN markets. Motoroyale and Norton will launch a limited edition, all-British CBU version of its existing models by the first quarter of 2018.
The Commando will be followed by the Dominator and its variants, Commando 961 Sport, Commando 961 Café Racer, Dominator Sport and DomiRacer.
Norton Motorcycles says it is working on developing a new range and engine platforms which will be made available to the JV in later years.
A more Asia-specific 650cc twin-cylinder motorcycle is also under development, which will be launched in Europe by the end of 2018, at the same time as its Indian manufacturing operations commence. This 650cc motorcycle range will be launched in India the following year and is expected to lay Norton’s foundation as a more mainstream motorcycle manufacturer in a competitive market such as ours.
The JV is targeting a 10-14 percent market share of the superbike market; this translates to 1,200-2,000 bikes in India. ASEAN market sales will be additional to India sales and would account for around 4,000-5,000 units per annum within two to three years.
Speaking at the JV announcement in New Delhi today, Arun Firodia, chairman, Kinetic Group, said: “Such a partnership will create high-quality products at good price-points. This is the next chapter in the history of the Kinetic Group. Both Norton and MV Agusta are charming brands in our bag.”
"Norton was the first brand I wanted to collaborate with, when I envisaged Motoroyale. This is the first JV ever to have no lawyers involved and is based purely on the passion for the brand. This is a union of legacies and the love for motorcycling," said Ajinkya Firodia, managing director of Motoroyale, Kinetic Group’s exotic motorcycle business division.
Earlier speaking to Autocar Professional, Stuart Garner, CEO and owner, Norton Motorcycles, which now has three engine platforms (650cc-twin, 961cc-parallel-twin and V4 1200cc) and plans to have a range of about 9 models in its portfolio soon, had said, “We will have three engines but with the investments in those engines, it is not enough to just sell Norton in Europe and North America. So one-two years ago, we knew that we needed to extend our market into South East Asia and may be Southern America as well.”
Commenting on the model line-up expected for India, Garner remarked, “We see the start of this relationship (JV with Kinetic) with the 961 but we think the volumes and a lot of commercial sense will come from the 650. The 650cc, twin-cylinder bike is still under development. It will commercialise the whole venture. It’s going to be a very good engine, very compact and I think it will be a very suitable bike for the partnership.”
Localisation level up to 50 percent at launch
The company plans to manufacture its motorcycles with localisation of upto 50 percent in India at the time of Norton’s first official product launch. Around the same time (end-2018), it plans to formally launch its 650cc twin-cylinder motorcycles in the European markets, which is estimated to turn around its annual volumes from current 1,000 units to 4,000-5,000 units.
Taking this growth further Norton’s alliance with India’s Kinetic Group is expected to play a critical role in its global business expansion plans. The production plan for 650cc models in India post CY2018 is expected to be the watershed in the brand’s history.
“It is very interesting how we have put the structure (of the new JV with Kinetic) together. I think it will be a good model for the future and gives us a very strong business with a very long-term view,” Garner told this publication recently.
“For us to identify how big is the opportunity is like a blank piece of paper. So while commercializing the bike we will learn about the size of the opportunity. It is very important for a small business to understand how to scale up without destroying the capital. We need to take our time to learn about the journey that we are about to start and then scale up very slowly. We don’t put any pressure on the partnership with immediate volume (targets),” he added.
Also read: Interview with Norton CEO Stuart Garner
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