Royal Enfield announced the promotion of Dr. Venki Padmanabhan as its newest CEO. Dr. Padmanabhan attended the New York IMS where he introduced the company’s 2011 line of motorcycles.
Royal Enfield Motors, which claims to be the oldest motorcycle company in the world, appointed Dr. Venki Padmanabhan as its new Chief Executive Officer. Dr. Padmanabhan recently attended the New York IMS show where he introduced Royal Enfield’s 2011 line of motorcycles and talked passionately about the romantic qualities associated with Royal Enfield ownership.
According to the official press release, Dr. Padmanabhan joined Royal Enfield two years ago as COO where he served under CEO R.L. Ravichandran. During those two years, “the company posted a 21% growth in sales volume, 54% growth in sales turnover and a return to two-digit profitability.” Dr. Padmanabhan is well versed in the methods of Lean Manufacturing after serving stints with both GM and DaimlerChrysler and is credited with helping restore the Cadillac brand to credibility. In his new position as CEO of Royal Enfield Motors, he will be reporting to Siddhartha Lal, Managing Director of RE’s parent company Eicher Motors Limited.
“Dr. Padmanabhan has already proven to be an outstanding leader for Royal Enfield while working alongside R.L. Ravichandran as company’s Chief Operating Officer,” said Kevin Mahoney in the press release. Mahoney is president of Classic Motorworks, Royal Enfield’s United States distributor.
Royal Enfield introduced the Classic Chrome 500 (above) and the Black Bullet 500 (below) at the recent New York IMS.
“His world-wide experience in the automotive industry and passion for bringing new life to historic brands make him the ideal candidate to build on the success from recent years and continue Royal Enfield’s growth as global brand,” he continued.
At the New York IMS, Dr. Padmanabhan also talked excitedly about how Royal Enfield received great exposure in the latest Harry Potter movie, Deathly Hallows Part I. In the opening sequence of the movie, Hagrid is riding a blue Royal Enfield motorcycle with Harry holding on tight alongside him in a Watsonian sidecar. Product placement in movies is a subtle but effective advertising method and Royal Enfield can only benefit from its exposure in the film.
Dr. Padmanabhan also discussed the company’s big plans for the future, including the release of a Café Racer in 2012. He also said Royal Enfield intends to introduce a Parallel Vertical Twin in the 650-750cc range in a couple of years in addition to a diesel-powered motorcycle called the Himalayan Touring within the next three years.
The two new models Royal Enfield introduced at the New York IMS are the Classic Chrome 500 and the Black Bullet 500. With its love of all things shiny, the Classic Chrome 500 is a natural fit for the American market. True to its name, the Classic Chrome is a beautiful bike with its highly polished chrome fenders, oil and fuel tanks, engine covers, exhaust and headlight nacelle. A sprung seat and a kick-starting single-cylinder engine add to its classic character (it does have an electric starter also). The 500 Classic Chrome sources a single 280mm disc on the front and a drum on the back. Its pulse is provided by a 499cc, four-stroke, OHV single. A maroon racing stripe with gold trim runs the length of the bike down the middle of the fenders and tank.
Royal Enfield’s air-cooled, single-cylinder, four-stroke engine powers all of its motorcycles that cater to the North American market.
Another popular trend in the American motorcycle industry is the blacked-out movement, which Royal Enfield’s second new model addresses. The Black Bullet 500 has a black frame, fenders, tank, side cover, headlight housing and seat. Its rear fender is cut differently to accommodate the single-piece, two-up seat and it has a squared-off air filter box. It’s powered by the same air-cooled, electronically fed Single, as the majority of changes are cosmetic.
The other Royal Enfield motorcycles listed in the press packet circulated at the NY IMS are the Classic, Electra and Electra Deluxe. The Bullet Classic, featuring a 1950s style headlight nacelle and equipped with a hidden tool box, is heading into its 77th year of production. The Bullet Electra features Royal Enfield’s new unit construction engine that meets stringent Euro III standards. The Bullet Electra Deluxe differs from the standard Electra with the addition of hand-polished aluminum castings and a hand-lined chrome gas tank. Common Denominators for Royal Enfields headed to the North American market are 499cc engines and EFI with the popular 350cc Bullet notably absent.
Here’s a little more information about Royal Enfield’s new CEO and the company courtesy of the Classic Motorworks press release:
About Dr. Venki Padmanabhan
Dr. Padmanabhan started his career at General Motors at the Warren Technical Center in 1989, where he specialized in advanced manufacturing research, product engineering, and plant manufacturing. Dr. Padmanabhan was first introduced to Lean Manufacturing in 1999 at GM’s Buick City Assembly Plant in Flint, Michigan and later helped restore the Cadillac brand to its former glory at the company’s Lansing Grand River Assembly Plant, which produced the revitalizing CTS, SRX and STS models. In 2004 Dr. Padmanabhan joined DaimlerChrysler Corporation, where he was part of the team that introduced Lean Manufaturing to the company’s diverse operations and lead Chrysler Corporation to achieve double-digit, industry-leading productivity improvements. Based on that success, Mercedes Car Division drew Dr. Padmanabhan to Stuttgart, Germany in 2006, where he reported to Vice President of Production Planning, Simon Boag and delivered productivity improvements to Component, Powertrain and Assembly plants around Germany.
Dr. Padmanabhan received his Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering from the University of Pittsburgh in 1991, and holds a M.S. in Engineering Management from the University of Pittsburgh and a B.S. in Mechanical (Automotive) Engineering from the Birla Institute of Technology in Ranchi, India.
About Royal Enfield Motors
Royal Enfield motorcycles have been in continuous production since 1901. The marque was first established in 1893 by Enfield Manufacturing Co. of Redditch, Worcestershire, England under license from the Crown. The company’s legacy in weapons manufacturing served as inspiration for the Bullet model name and brand’s enduring motto “Made Like A Gun, Goes Like A Bullet”. The Redditch company’s Indian licensee, started assembling Bullet motorcycles in India in 1951 and continued to uphold the brand tradition after the collapse of the British company in 1971. Today, as the owner of the original brand, the $100M Royal Enfield company is headquartered in Chennai, India and operates as a division of the $1B Eicher Group. In recent years, the historic brand has seen a resurgence of interest around the world, selling over 50,000 motorcycles per year to loyal riders in 30 countries.