Norton CEO quizzed on new combustion model development plus V4CR delays

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Norton CEO Dr Robert Hentschel has confirmed to MCN that new combustion engine models are on the way – as well as acknowledging delays for the £41,999 V4CR.

“Our business plan was built around fix phase, build phase, fly phase,” Hentschel told MCN during an exclusive interview. “We fixed the old motorcycles – that was the first step, to re-engineer the old bikes.

“We are now in the build phase – we built the UK dealer network – and this was the focus for this year so we can sell bikes,” he continued. “In parallel, after re-engineering the old bikes, we started to develop a new product family. If you develop a motorcycle, it takes something between 24 and 40 months.”

A bespoke Norton dealership opened at the Bike Shed in central London in April 2023, with the company signing-up a further eight partnerships with established multi-franchise operations across England during the year.

Norton CEO Dr Robert Hentschel

When asked what the new product line might look like, the CEO confirmed it would be a different category of machine from those we’ve seen already, and stated that the bikes will need to meet homologation standards in order to allow the brand to expand globally.

“The actual engines are non-Euro5 compliant,” Hentschel said of the current range. “That means we can sell the bikes only in the UK, with Motorcycle Single Vehicle Approval registrations.”

Norton want to appeal to a worldwide audience and that means they will be working on a new range of internal combustion engines for their developing model line-up.

With the brand purchased by Indian industrial giants TVS Motor Company in 2020 for £16 million, and a further £100m pumped in during April 2022, Norton now have an advanced Solihull factory and have begun selling a re-worked Commando 961 roadster range alongside the V4SV superbike.

December last year saw the operation tease a V4CR naked, with further production model details released during May 2023.

Quality is key

Side view of the Norton V4CR concept

The naked V4CR will be limited to just 200 models but Norton admit they will only be in a position to deliver one bike before the end of the year, with more to follow. The firm put the delay down to quality issues with certain components.

“The supply of some parts, and where the quality was not good enough, so I did not sign it off,” Hentschel told MCN. “I’d rather have a proper quality product here than customer complaints, which we cannot afford at the moment at this point of the journey at Norton.”

With biking now in its off-season for many, especially owners of high-end machines, Hentschel says that the focus will be on completing deliveries of pre-ordered machines ready for the new riding year.

During the interview, Hentschel also spoke about electrification – with the company having announced plans for battery powered bikes back in June 2023.

“I think that the higher performance segments will take more time to develop. We see that in the volumes and the brands selling at the moment,” he said.

He then confirmed Norton would aim at lower capacity models first, with bikes produced meeting the company’s luxury brand strategy.