The company will introduce a rival to RE’s new 650cc parallel-twin-engined motorcycles. Norton signed a 20-year design-and-licence alliance with Chinese company Zongshen Manufacturing for its new, 650cc twin-cylinder engine developed by Norton with assistance from UK’s Ricardo.
Currently, all Norton’s bikes are hand built at its plant in the UK. But now, the company plans to industrialise production of its midsize models, as it anticipates a sharp rise in sales in the near future.
Norton Motorcycles’ CEO and owner Stuart Garner stated that the company is working on a midsize twin-cylinder, 650cc engine for affordable bikes targeted at emerging markets such as India. Norton recently signed a 51:49 joint venture with India’s Motoroyale, the Kinetic Group’s exotic bike umbrella, The first Nortons to be made in India are expected to be part of the Commando range, which is powered by the parallel-twin, 961cc engine.
Garner said, “The next engine to come from Norton is the 650cc, twin-cylinder for India and the Asian territories, be it Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand or Taiwan. We see the start of this relationship (with India’s Kinetic Group) with the 961 but we think the volumes and a lot of commercial sense will come from the 650s (650cc models). The 650cc, twin-cylinder bike is still under development. It will commercialise the whole venture. It’s going to be a very good engine, very compact and I think it will be a very suitable bike for the partnership.”
Norton Motorcycles’ aim is to begin manufacturing and retail operations in India by end-2018.