India was once said to be the jewel in Great Britain’s crown, that has long ceased to be the case. Likewise Norton was once the jewel in Britain’s motorcycle industry but has met an ignominious end too many times in its long history.
Nortons fall from grace this time around has been a shocking tale of financial mismanagement that will likely see Stuart Garner in court on various charges – Image Phil Aynsley
Few of those disintegrations have been as seemingly dishonourable as the most recent suffered under the stewardship of the now largely disgraced Stuart Garner.
Stuart Garner (right), has been largely pilloried for the financial state that Norton ended up in before the Indian bail-out. TT legend John McGuinness (left) was also left with a sour taste after his dealings with Garner.
Garner was the great new hope for Norton when he bought the rights to the Norton brand in 2008 but in January of this year those hopes were dashed. And with that downfall it seems that dozens of customers that have paid for motorcycles will never receive them. The misery continues with pension funds also allegedly defrauded and workers left without entitlements.
Norton Commando 961 SF was on the new generation Nortons that made it into production
The next re-birth of the Norton brand will be under Indian stewardship via the 42-year-old and very successful TVS Motor Company.
Based in Chennai, TVS is India’s third largest motorcycle company with revenues approaching US $3 billion through annual sales of 3 million units. It is also India’s second largest exporter with footholds in over 60 countries for TVS Motor, while the umbrella TVS Group is present in 129 countries with total revenues of US$8.5 billion.
TVS Ntorq 125
The company has manufacturing plants located at Hosur in Tamil Nadu Mysore in Karnataka and Nalagarh in Himachal Pradesh. TVA also has a manufacturing facility in Indonesia at Karawang near Jakarta.
TVS are also on the e-bike front with the TVS iQube EV
TVS was the first Indian company to produce a four-stroke motorcycle (complete design, development and production in India – Royal Enfield was British), the first Indian motorcycle brand to employ ABS and catalytic convertors and more recently debuted India’s first bluetooth equipped scooter in the TVS Ntorq 125.
TVS also makes powered three-wheeler machines
Within Australia TVS has never really gained much of a footing but their scooters have found a market here from time to time.
TVS deal with BMW produced the G 310 R and GS for BMW, and the TVS Apache RR 310 for the Indian company
TVS has manufacturing alliances with the likes of BMW via a partnership that started in 2013 and led to the jointly produced G 310 range, while previous close alliances with Suzuki Japan that have now expired. TVS also enters the Dakar Rally in conjunction with Sherco and 2020 marked the sixth year of their competitive endeavours together.
Michael Metge tops the 2018 Baja Aragon Podium with TVS Sherco
With the current coronavirus pandemic holding a Sword of Damocles over the Indian sub-continent it is quite a brave move by TVS who are already navigating troubled waters. Shares of TVS Motor Company had fallen 36 percent this year but are rebounding somewhat after the acquisition of Norton.
In the short term, the GBP 16 million all-cash acquisition of Norton will see the British brand, for now, continue and hopefully step up production at Norton’s Donington Park facility in Leicestershire with previous staff employed.
The deal was concluded by Project 303 Bidco Ltd, a newly incorporated company set up under TVS Motor’s Singapore subsidiary specifically to acquire Norton.
TVS joint managing director Sudarshan Venu
“This is a momentous time for us at TVS Motor Company. Norton is an iconic British brand celebrated across the world. With its exciting range of products, Norton presents us with an immense opportunity to cater to the aspirations of discerning motorcycle customers around the world. We will extend our full support for Norton to regain its rightful glory. Norton will continue to retain its distinctive identity with dedicated and specific business plans. TVS Motor Company will work closely with customers and employees in building the success and pre-eminence of the Norton Motorcycles brand and we look forward to growing together globally in the years to come.”
Norton’s CS1 from 1927 was the company’s first over-head cam design. Designed as a TT racer but also found success as a TT replica road bike in the 1930s.