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Royal Enfield may discontinue their range of 500cc motorcycles once the new BS-VI emission laws come in to effect on 1 April 2020. The company currently manufactures 500cc for the Thunderbird, the Classic, and the Bullet families, and the 500s have been in production for over three decades.
The company says that implementing BS-VI upgrades to the 500cc range of motorcycles is unviable for the domestic markets. This is because of the high costs of upgrading the engines to meet the new emission norms. In addition, sales numbers for the 500cc range do not justify the upgrades.
The company says they will concentrate on upgrading their 350cc range of motorcycles, which continue to enjoy high demand. In addition they say that the push-rod architecture of the existing 350cc and 500cc range of motorcycles do not meet the new emission norms, and the entire line up will be phased out.
Royal Enfield will upgrade the 350cc segment with an all-new powertrain, and phase out the 500cc range completely. While the motorcycles were made for the export markets, the domestic demands for the 500cc motorcycles picked up after the launch of the 500cc AVL engines in 2009.
Domestic sales of the 500s grew three times to 36,093 units in 2019 as compared to the 12,216 units sold in 2013. This was slower growth compared to the sales for the 350cc range that grew seven times over to 7.64 lakh units in 2019 from 1.08 lakh units in 2013.
Analysts say that the demand for RE 500cc motorcycles never took off because the motorcycle has the same look and feel of the 350cc range, were priced higher, and had a list of technical issues associated with them.
Specific models sold really well such as that Classic 500 Pegasus, which was inspired by the Royal Enfield Flying Flea from World War II. The limited edition motorcycles sold out in under three minutes in an online flash sale. The motorcycles were priced at Rs 2.45 lakh, on road.
Export numbers for the 500cc range of motorcycles do not justify upgrading the current-generation engines either. The company exported only 12,594 units of the 500cc range during the financial year 2018-19.
The company's 650 twins on the other hand are very successful models. The motorcycles were designed and built primarily for the export markets. Royal Enfield gambled when launching the 650s as they hoped that existing 500cc users would upgrade to either the Interceptor or the Continental GT.
The Interceptor 650 and the Continental GT will become the company's primary export models after the 500cc motorcycles are discontinued. Royal Enfield expects that the 650s will cater for all the export volumes needed.
The Interceptor 650 and the Continental GT are priced at about 45,000 over the range of 500s but the models have become a sensation and an overnight best seller for the company. In addition to a world-class engine, the motorcycles do not suffer from the technical issues that are synonymous with the 500cc motorcycles.
Thoughts About Royal Enfield Pulling The Plug On The 500cc Range Of Motorcycles
This is a brilliant move by RE. In fact, the company should have discontinued the 500cc range a few years ago. We are happy to hear that the 500s will be no more. Phew! That comes as a relief to a lot of us who have owned 500s. Thankfully new owners will not have to deal with the emotions we had to!