Norton Motorcycles agrees £multi-million IP deal

Posted on 31 Jul 2017 by Jonny Williamson

Norton Motorcycles has signed a ‘Design & Licence’ engine agreement with Zongshen, signifying the global regard for world-leading British-made technology.

Norton 650cc V4 RR Superbike - image courtesy of Norton Motorcycles.
The engines for every one of Norton’s own motorcycles will continue to be manufactured in the UK at its Donington Hall factory – image courtesy of Norton Motorcycles.

The 20-year agreement centres on a new 650cc twin engine, jointly engineering and developed by Norton Motorcycles and Ricardo.

The engine has reportedly been specifically and exclusively designed to the requirements of Zongshen, and is expected to be fully Euro 4 compliant. This enables Zongshen, one of China’s largest engine makers, to meet current and future emissions regulations.

The specifics of the agreement will see the engine IP remain within Norton Motorcycles, while the engine itself is expected to be produced under the ‘Zongshen’ or ‘Cyclone’ brands.

The value of the deal has not been disclosed, but the initial consideration paid to Norton Motorcycles is reportedly in the millions of dollars with an ongoing royalty on each engine produced.

Zongshen produced around four million engines in 2016, so the agreement could run into the tens of millions for the British motorcycle marque over the next 20 years.

Norton Motorcycles CEO, Stuart Garner commented: “The commercialisation of our IP is a key area for Norton and we will be investing the substantial revenue received back into our skills, training and engineering capability, thus ensuring long term sustainability to our British-made Norton motorcycles here in the UK.”

Speaking exclusively to The Manufacturer, Garner explained that there is currently a big push within China – and other Asian countries – for environmental standards; something that historically hasn’t been a factor.

Now that it has become an important issue, Asian businesses are increasingly looking to leverage the technical know-how and engineering expertise of those nations who are leading the world in that regard, i.e. the UK.

Garner added that rather than viewing the Far East as either a source of suppliers or competition, UK manufacturers should view the region as a valuable – and still largely untapped – pool of IP and expertise customers.

Describing Norton as being very proactive in getting the Design & Licence agreement “over the line”, he also stressed that the engines for every one of Norton’s own motorcycles would continue to be manufactured in the UK at its Donington Hall factory.