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Monday 21 December 2020


BSA is Heading Home

Indian conglomerate Mahindra and Mahindra is to "Bring it Home" by manufacturing its new 21st century iterations of the legendary BSA motorcycle brand in the UK - in fact in Coventry, ground zero of the UK motorcycle industry 'back in the day'.
Billionaire chairman Anand Mahindra has said that BSA is to build new internal combustion engine (ICE) and electric motorcycles at a new factory in Coventry - 20 miles west from Royal Enfield's Bruntingthorpe UK headquarters, 15 miles from Triumph Motorcycles' Hinckley UK HQ, and 15 miles east of the planned new Norton Motorcycles manufacturing plant at Solihull, near Birmingham, that former Harley Europe president John Russel has lined-up for Norton Motorcycles in his capacity as interim CEO at Norton on behalf of new owners TVS.

Along with the Gold Star 500 (B50) and 650 Thunderbolt and Lightning, the BSA Rocket 3 was one of the last BSA badged bikes made in 1973. The bankrupt BSA Triumph business was amalgamated into the ill-fated UK government owned Norton Villiers Triumph concern at Meriden, Coventry, in 1972.

Mahindra bought the BSA brand in 2016 and in 2017 was subsequently able to consolidate the IP by buying three other BSA companies from the BSA Regal Group in the UK, which previously owned the brand rights. Ever since then there had been speculation about what Mahindra would do with the brand, but no definitive plan. Well, now we know.
The company is to establish a $12m R&D tech/design center at Banbury, near Oxford (about 40 miles south of Coventry), and open up an assembly facility in Coventry. When BSA (originally Birmingham Small Arms) went bankrupt in the early 1970s, it got folded into the then equally doomed UK government owned Norton Villiers Triumph operation at Meriden, Coventry. The new BSA facility will be about 20 miles from BSA’s historic home at Small Heath, Birmingham.
Mahindra is already owner of Peugeot Motorcycles (formerly Peugeot Scooters) in France and through its Classic Legends subsidiary has sold some 50,000 new Jawa models in India since it additionally acquired that former Czech brand at around the same time that it bought BSA. The new BSA iteration will be a Classic Legends brand - the Mahindra Group has a 60% ownership stake in Classic Legends - with the balance owned by former investment banker, Royal Enfield man, motorcycle enthusiast and Jawa comeback catalyst Anupam Thareja's London based Phi Capital and Boman Irani, former founder of Ideal Jawa (Jawa and Yezdi in India).

Mahindra CEO Anand Mahindra views it as "very important" to have the bikes assembled in the UK "for the authenticity of the brand."

The Banbury R&D center is being part funded by a $6m grant from the UK government and the Coventry assembly plant is due to start production by the middle of 2021 with a 10,000 unit capacity - around 80% of which will be made for export. Around 50 jobs will be created at the tech center, with some 250 more eventually hired at the production facility. The new models are expected to sell for between $7,000 and $13,000.
The first of the planned new models will be gas powered retro motorcycles, with the first of the planned electric models due to be launched by the end of 2021. Anand Mahindra has stated that the components for both models will initially come from India, but that subject to the small print surrounding the UK's exit from the European Union, core parts may subsequently be made in Britain.
Speaking to the Financial Times, he said that "the UK was the leader in bikes right from the start. That provenance is something that we really want to retain," saying that he viewed it as being "very important" to have the bikes assembled in the UK "for the authenticity of the brand."