Thursday, June 10, 2010
Towards the end of the 1980's Enfield India was in trouble. In 1983 the first Japanese motorcycle, a Suzuki 100cc, was built under license in India. Inexpensive, fuel efficient and reliable, it became an instant hit. Enfield India suddenly faced some of the problems its UK predecessor had faced two decades earlier. Unlike the UK parent company, and the UK motorcycling industry in general, Enfield India took the threat seriously. A new high tech plant was built in Raniput where Zundapp designed light and modern motorcycles were built: the Silver Plus (50cc) the Explorer (50cc) and the 5-gear, disc-brake Fury. Unfortunately the stiff competition coupled with a general slowdown of the automotive industry and increased prices of raw materials led Enfield India to post its first loss in a decade in 1987. Studies were commissioned and eventually led to the alliance with the Eicher group in 1990. However, the downturn proved too much for the chairman of Enfield India, S. Viswanathan, who left the company and created an organic food product company called Enfield Agrobase Limited. The company seems in good shape even today!