Siddhartha Lal was 26 years old when his father, Eicher Motors CEO Vikram Lal, purchased Royal Enfield. Over the last 18 years, the younger Lal has revamped the iconic brand, and Enfield now sells more large-displacement motorcycles than any other manufacturer in the world. Finding success in India has led to expansion. Royal Enfield now has R&D facilities in the U.K., and with a larger displacement engine released in 2018, Lal is widening the company’s gaze to international markets.
Siddhartha Lal is a businessman—he has degrees in economics and automotive engineering—and he speaks the language of bankers and product planners, but it’s not uncommon for Lal to take meetings in scuffed boots and well-worn riding jeans. Even with his C-suite pedigree, it’s very apparent that he has a love for motorcycles, motorcycling, and motorcyclists as well.
Tell us about reviving Royal Enfield?
When I took over as CEO in 2001, some of the most valuable things that I had at RE were a strong employee culture at the company, a small but loyal customer base, money from the parent company, and most importantly, time. Building on that, we took 10 years to put together a strong foundation at RE—getting riding and the customer’s voice to guide the company, improving or changing suppliers, investing in better training and equipment at our factory, and nurturing our dealer network, since that is the face of the brand to all our customers. Simple stuff, done well, with no time pressure.
Did you ever think the brand couldn’t be salvaged?
I was young and naive, and fortunately, I didn’t question my abilities. I always believed that the brand had enormous potential, and we took the evolution of the brand a step at a time.
How have family ties played a role in your leadership of Enfield?
My father purchased Royal Enfield for Eicher Motors and had the vision for what Royal Enfield should become. He also put into place an amazing people-based culture at the company, which is the backbone of everything that we do. My mum runs her own business, and I learned from her how to follow your instinct and to think 50 years out.
Throughout the ’60s and ’70s, Enfield was a competitive brand in several race series. Do you ever see Royal Enfield entering competition again?
I could see a same-make series for the new Continental GT 650 Twin, but I can’t see MotoGP.
What would success for Royal Enfield look like?
This! Success is a journey, and we are already more successful than I could have ever dreamed. However, now that we are here, we have opened many doors and ideas. The next 10 to 20 years is about making Royal Enfield a truly global brand, available and loved around the world. The brand that revived middleweight motorcycles and brings joy to people who enjoy timeless classic machines and experiences in the modern context.