NEW DELHI - Fresh from an endorsement by President Obama, India's motorcycle manufacturer Royal Enfield announced it was speeding up expansion and production to meet booming demand for its British-origin bikes.
The company, based in southwestern India but rooted in British biking history, will spend $80 million this year on building two factories as well as other expansion plans.
"Royal Enfield will be investing Rs 500 crore in 2015 towards product development, capex and other development areas," chief executive Siddhartha Lal said in a statement posted on its website.
"With a view to become the leader in the global mid-sized motorcycling, Royal Enfield will build two new technology centers."
The Secret Service doesn't let me ride motorcycles, especially not on my head." - President Barack Obama
The centers will be located in the southern Indian city of Chennai and the English county of Leicestershire and be completed by the second quarter of 2016 and the end of 2015 respectively.
The president gave the iconic bikes a nod of approval after he saw India's Border Security Force officers perform daredevil stunts on their shiny Royal Enfields during a trip to New Delhi last month.
"I saw the Republic Day daredevils on Royal Enfield motorcycles," Obama said during the visit, describing the stunts as a highlight of the military parade to mark India's Republic Day.
"The secret service doesn't let me ride motorcycles, especially not on my head," he added with a smile at the audacious maneuvers.
Lal said Royal Enfiel continued to grow at a "phenomenal pace" last year, selling 300,000 units and had plans to manufacture a total of 450,000 in 2015.
The manufacturer, owned by heavy vehicle and bus maker Eicher, also saw a record income of $482 million last year, the statement said.
Royal Enfield started life as a British company making single-cylinder engines that produce a distinctive "thump" sound more than 110 years ago, but it closed its last domestic factory in 1970.
Its Indian partner started making bikes under license in 1955, and is today one of the oldest names in motorcycling.
In 2009 Royal Enfield launched a redesigned version of its classic retro-looking "Bullet" model, a move that saw sales take off.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2015