The workers strike at automotive plants in Tamil Nadu has been on for over a month, and there does not seem to be an agreement reached yet between the companies and a section of the employees involved in the protests. Close to 1,500 workers of Royal Enfield, Yamaha and Myoung Shin India Automotive were detained by the police for over five hours on Thursday, October 25. The workers were attempting to carry out a march to the Kancheepuram Collectorate without permission.
Will the strike affect the timescales of the rollout of new Royal Enfields? On October 10, Siddhartha Lal, managing director of Eicher Motors told Economic Times that the production had begun, although not at full capacity. Lal said:
It has certainly impacted production. The strike is not fully sorted out, but the good news is that production has begun but it’s not at full tilt.
In September, Royal Enfield stated that the majority of workers are fully engaged in performing their roles. However, some did not report for work. Royal Enfield said in the statement:
A majority of associate engineers are fully engaged in performing their roles; some of them did not report for work, though they were present in the facility... We are hopeful of arriving at a mutually beneficial solution.
While Royal Enfield has not announced the Indian launch date for the 650 Twins, the company is expected to introduce the models in November 2018. A report from earlier this month claimed that certain Royal Enfield dealerships have already commenced the bookings for the Interceptor INT 650 and Continental GT 650 for a token amount of INR 5,000. The dealerships have also promised deliveries in mid-December 2018. The 650 Twins are expected to be launched in the sub-INR 3 lakh (ex-showroom) range.
Both, the Interceptor INT 650 and Continental GT 650, would use Royal Enfield’s all-new 648 cc, parallel-twin cylinder, SOHC, oil-cooled, 8-valve engine that delivers 47 bhp of maximum power at 7,100 rpm and 52 Nm of peak torque at 5,200 rpm. The motor is mated to a 6-speed gearbox and gets slip-assist clutch as standard – a first on Royal Enfield motorcycles.
A 320 mm single disc at the front and a 240 mm single disc at the rear perform anchoring tasks while the safety net of dual-channel ABS comes standard.
While the Interceptor INT 650 and the Continental GT 650 share the frame, engine, suspension, and brakes, the motorcycles feature different styling and ergonomics. The Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 gets a curvy fuel tank design, a single-piece handlebar, and a flat saddle. The ergonomics are upright and comfortable as compared to the cafe racer.
The Royal Enfield Continental GT 650 gets clip-on handlebars that give the motorcycle more committed riding stance that would be appreciated while canyon carving. The cafe racer comes with a rider-only saddle with a rear cowl. Buyers can opt for the optional seat that can accommodate a passenger.
Royal Enfield is yet to announce the launch date, the start of bookings, or pricing of the 650 Twins for India. Meanwhile, earlier this month, the company started to roll out a new variant of the Classic 350 range, Gun Metal Grey ABS in the Indian market.