Say goodbye to the Commando.
If there’s anyone for whom 2020 has been an even wilder ride than most of the rest of us, it may just be Norton Motorcycles and its customers. Thankfully, the newly reconstituted Norton—under TVS ownership—is making good on previous customer deposits and is also generally looking forward to the future.
Bennetts BikeSocial sat down with Norton interim CEO John Russell for an interview, and asked him a whole bunch of questions about some newly-trademarked historic names, as well as Norton’s future plans. The video is just over half an hour long, if you want the full experience—but here are some of the most salient bits.
Russell said that, above all, the current iteration of Norton wants to move forward with the high attention to quality, detail, and leading-edge developments that built Norton’s name and reputation all those years ago. The company philosophy is not to simply rest its weight on nostalgia going forward, but to bring modern, 21st century manufacturing techniques into play. Russell was quick to add that he didn’t mean robots displacing people, just less of a cottage- or shed-build feel when compared with the previous administration.
If they’re not looking to the past, what’s up with those trademarked historic Norton names? Russell was noncommittal, and said that since it’s so tough to come up with good, relevant model names, companies need to do all they can to protect those trademarks once they’ve come up with them. He didn’t offer any further insight into what, if anything, Norton plans to do with those names going forward.
Regarding the new Solihull manufacturing facility that Norton has been working on, Russell said that they plan to move in by the end of 2020, and get things up and running there sometime in January, 2021. For the next year or so, they’ll be working on the current V4s, and also getting the V4 into Euro 5-compliance for future models.
Meanwhile, the Commando as it currently exists is on its last legs, and Norton Motorcycles will be saying goodbye to it after this run. Russell said the name is so integral to Norton that it will likely return in the future, but most probably in a different form that they haven’t identified yet.
Regarding Norton and the possibility of electric bikes in the future, he said it would be foolish to try to pretend that alternatively-fueled bikes aren’t coming. However, he also added that parent company TVS’ needs for electric bikes are much different than what Norton would need. While both companies plan to explore and develop their options, those developments will likely not have much in common with one another at the end.