In Two Years Continental GT Reduced to Half; In Double Digit Monthly Sales Now
Back in November 2014 when the Continental GT was launched, I was a happy man. Not only the concept of cafe racers made a comeback (Triumph’s Thruxton was also launched around the same time), but they were also becoming affordable. With a 535 cc fuel injected mill Continental GT was the largest motorcycle in Royal Enfield’s portfolio and came equipped with Pirelli tyres, Paioli rear suspension and a chassis setup by Harris Performance.
The output figures of 29.1 bhp and 44 Nm were low for a 500 odd cc engine but Royal Enfield used the term ‘affordable’ and ‘usable’ power/throttle response at least a dozen times during its media ride. I, kind of, liked the motorcycle and it was fun riding it on the streets, but yes, it did lack the practicality factor. Neither was it a log distance motorcycle nor a very comfortable city gadabout.
Following the initial hype, sales figures were fairly encouraging in the beginning and it enjoyed a pretty decent run. However, it began to drop shortly after and the motorcycle is now in worrisome double digits. February 2016 figures stood at 43 which is still marginally better than the lowest ’22’ it hit in January. March saw it rise to 90 units. For the second half of last year, sales never crossed 150 in any month. If looked in isolation, these figures may not sound as bad as they actually are. Only if we tell you that Royal Enfield older models generally sell in thousands every month you will understand how bad a response the motorcycle has got.
If we talk numbers, RE sold over 41,000 units of their other 500s in the last financial year which is an average of about 3500 units a month.
As per SIAM data, Royal Enfield sold 1,351 units of Continental GT in the months between April 2015 and March 2016. That’s a drop of over 50 per cent on a year on year basis! International demand though has increased as exports grew from 1,629 in the last fiscal to 1,801 units in the present one.
In comparison, its closest indirect rival, Harley Davidson’s cheapest model Street 750 has been having a gala time. While it too showed a huge drop in the months of December and August (which was primarily because most of the produce was exported) and despite being double the cost it outsells the CGT handsomely and consistently.
Quite clearly, Royal Enfield’s diehard fans have shown aversion towards the model and the company has not been able to pull customers from other folds.
This also, kind of, tells that niche products do not have a very strong market acceptance and this brings us to the latest Himalayan, which is yet another motorcycle in a segment which is not very common. Will Himalayan be able to carry the initial momentum it has built or will it also fizzle down with time? What do you think?