TVS Motor Company has announced the acquisition of Britain’s most historic sporting brand Norton Motorcycles in an all cash deal for £16 million.
TVS Motor’s overseas arm made the acquisition for an estimated INR 153 crores and should be one of the most interesting acquisitions in recent times. In January 30, the Castle Donington based UK manufacturer Norton Motorcycles was put into administration (similar to bankruptcy in US). Norton was a famed motorcycle brand for its starring roles in the adaptation of the Che Guevara memoir, The Motorcycle Diaries, and the James Bond movie Spectre. The 122 year old British Motoring Brand’s owner was Stuart Garner. Garner had purchased the brand in 2008 and had pledged to return the marque to former glories. Norton, under Garner’s leadership couldn’t do much and over the years had fallen victim of issues ranging from Brexit, a punchy HM Revenue & Customs pursuing the firm for £300,000 in unpaid taxes, and tough international competition.
Norton had some management issue, which TVS Motor Company with its global supply chain capabilities and financial support helped it overcome. Though there will be some concerns in the short term due to ongoing Covid-19 crisis, TVS Motor has already enhanced its cost-reduction measures, and also cut down on capex. Manufacturing will continue in the existing Norton facility, and there are many customer orders that will be fulfilled in a profitable manner (which erstwhile company was not able to serve).
Let’s understand more about Norton Motorcycles history and current product range –
Norton Motorcycle Company (formerly Norton Motors, Ltd.) is an English motorcycle marque, originally from Birmingham, England, UK. It was founded in 1898 as a manufacturer of “fittings and parts for the two-wheel trade”. By 1902 the company had begun manufacturing motorcycles with bought-in engines. In 1908 a Norton-built engine was added to the range. This began a long series of production of single and eventually twin-cylinder motorcycles, and a long history of racing involvement. During the Second World War Norton produced almost 100,000 of the military Model 16 H and Big 4 sidevalve motorcycles.
In 1907 a Norton ridden by Rem Fowler won the twin-cylinder class in the first Isle of Man TT race, beginning a sporting tradition that went on until the 1960s! Do note that the Isle of Man TT race is often called one of the most dangerous racing events in the world. Norton resumed racing and in 1924 the Isle of Man Senior TT was the first win with a race average speed over 60 mph, rider Alec Bennett. Norton won this event ten times until they withdrew from racing in 1938. The Norton racing legend began in the 1930s. Of the nine Isle of Man Senior TTs (500 cc) between 1931 and 1939, Norton won seven! The Isle of Man Senior TT successes continued after the second world war too, with Nortons winning every year from 1947 to 1954.
Currently Norton’s bikes range was nothing much but had models such as the Commando 961 Cafe Racer, Dominator and V4RR in sale.
The motorbike is in production since 2006 and has 961 cc Parallel twin with push-rod valve actuation engine. Norton Commando 961 Cafe Racer was also launched in India at a base price of Rs. 20.99 lakh in April 2018. Commando 961 Cafe Racer has a air & oil cooled, parallel twin with dry sump lubrication engine and a 5 speed gear box. Norton Commando 961 Cafe Racer comes with disc breaks in front and rear with a support of ABS. It was made available in 6 colours. (Source)
The Dominator is a twin cylinder motorcycle developed by Norton to compete against the Triumph Speed Twin. The original Dominator was designed in 1947 and 1948 by Bert Hopwood, who had been on the Speed Twin design team at Triumph. Dominator was also launched in India at a base price of Rs. 23.70 lakh in October 2018 by Norton. Dominator is powered by 961cc engine. Dominator has a parallel twin with dry sump lubrication engine and a 5 speed gear box. Norton Dominator comes with disc breaks in front and rear with a support of ABS.
The V4RR is a fully-faired supersport motorcycle built by Norton. It is based on the SG5 Isle of Man TT race bike and is built at the Donington Hall factory in England. The bike is built around an aluminium twin-tube chassis with a single-sided swingarm exposing the rear wheel. To further reduce the weight of the motorcycle, Norton has equipped the bike with an 18-litre carbon-fibre fuel tank. The V4RR also gets an optional titanium racing exhaust that reduces weight by eight kilograms. Besides, it comes with a set of carbon fibre wheels. Powering the V4RR is a 1200c, 72-degree V4 engine that produces 200bhp and 130Nm of torque via a six-speed transmission and two-way quickshifter. The titanium exhaust further bumps up the power by 10bhp. The bike’s electronic package includes a six-axis IMU, traction control system, launch control, anti-wheelie system, and three riding modes- road, sport and pro-race, along with a cruise control system. (Source)