Mahindra to fund the revival of the iconic British motorcycle brand
English news outlet The Guardian published a story this week about the coming revival of an iconic British motorcycle brand, BSA. Anand Mahindra, Chairman of the Mahindra Group conglomerate, announced his plan to “resurrect the British motorcycle industry” by relaunching BSA Motorcycles Company, not in India, but in the UK.
Mahindra revealed plans to build a research facility in Banbury, England in 2021, for the express purpose of developing an electric motorcycle. The plan also included a production facility in Midlands, England, for the manufacture of internal combustion engine bikes, as well as electrics later in the year.
BSA 650 Lightning. Photo by Stavros1.
BSA, which stood for Birmingham Small Arms, first began firearms production in 1861. Their metalworking facilities eventually began building bicycles, and later motorcycles. By the 1950s, BSA was the world’s largest motorcycle manufacturer, yet went bankrupt and ceased production with the decline and collapse of the entire British motorcycle industry in the 1970s.
Several years ago a subsidiary of Mahindra, Classic Legends, bought and revived the Czech brand Jawa, and has been building them in India since 2018 for sale domestically and abroad. Interestingly, a Czech company also named Jawa Moto has begun manufacturing bikes under that name as well, sharing a licensing agreement with Classic Legends, and both are sold in the Czech Republic. In Jawa’s first year of production, they sold over 50,000 motorcycles, something the Mahindra Group hopes to repeat with BSA.
Mr. Mahindra chose to invest in the BSA brand, and build them back in England, because “the UK was the leader in bikes right from the start,” Mahindra told the Guardian. “That provenance is something that we really want to retain.” Mahindra has tasked Anupam Thareja, a former investment banker who initially bought the BSA brand, with the revival project. Thareja said he desired to continue the “quirky English charm” of the original BSA company. No estimates yet on volume of production.
Mahindra Group Chairman Anand Mahindra. Photo by Mark Lennihan, AP.
Mahindra stated their plan was to eventually move away from vehicles that burn fossil fuels, but assured that the company would not be “dismantling our (gas powered) engines” until a “tipping point” was reached in the wider market. The revived BSA Company plans to begin with gas-powered motorcycles in mid-2021, at an estimated cost between about $6600-$13,000 (USD) per bike, with parts sourced in the UK and beyond.
India seems poised to play a major role in the revival of the global motorcycle industry, with Triumph having built bikes there (though mostly in Thailand now), and of course, the dramatic world-wide growth of Royal Enfield, also a former UK brand, now built in Chennai, India, yet with an R & D facility back in southern England.
What are your thoughts on the revival of Jawa and BSA? On the role Indian companies are playing in reviving these old English and European brands? Share some thoughts with us in the comments section below.
*story source: The Guardian
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