WWII bike maker Norton will build electric motorcycles in Britain
He said Britain was likely to be a key market for sales and said Norton hoped to attract younger customers with its new electric model.
“Cities are completely packed with vehicles and there is a lot of traffic,” he said. “The volume of two-wheelers sold in the future will increase and I also think we will gain younger customers for the Norton brand.”
Norton began life as a manufacturer of bicycle parts in Birmingham in 1898. It soon moved into the manufacture of motorcycles and by the 1930s was a supplier to the British Army during World War II. alongside another iconic British brand, Triumph.
He was known for his racing bikes in the post-war years, with a close association with the Isle of Man TT racing. Famous past owners included Steve McQueen, although it was a Triumph he rode in the movie The Great Escape.
Norton typically builds chunky, chromed motorcycles and the Norton Interpol was used as a police cruiser in the 1980s.
The company has fallen on hard times in recent years and had to be rescued by Indian company TVS Motor in 2020 after it fell into administration. TVS has agreed to invest £100m and is building a new factory in Solihull. The change in ownership raised fears that Norton might not remain British, possibly reflecting the fate of Royal Enfield, whose center of gravity shifted to India in the 1970s as demand in the UK swelled. is dried up.
The company’s takeover has not been smooth and Mr Hentschel said he inherited “security issues” from the company’s previous incarnation.
“It was a period of at least three to six months where I was pretty busy dealing with legacy issues,” he said.
The electrification of motorcycles is difficult because of the weight of the batteries which has an effect on the balance. The company will integrate the design of the packs into the frame of the bike to overcome this, Mr. Hentschel said.
He urged the government to cut red tape around more powerful e-bikes to help businesses like his. Bikes that travel over 25 km/h currently require a motorcycle license.