Under the new leadership of the Indian giant TVS, British motorcycle brand Norton Motorcycles looks to the future with confidence. However, the company is expected to be haunted by the ghosts of the past, especially the period when the company was run by the fined Stewart Garner (at this stage the brand appeared under the legal name NMUL Realisations Limited).
Defective V4 SS
And the reputation of Norton has tarnished quite well, judging by the recent scandal with the previous V4 SS model, produced and sold under Garner. The fact is that multiple shortcomings were found in it, which made up a huge list of 35 positions, 20 of which are critical, and the rest are worthy of a separate recall campaign. This information was found and published by designated NMUL liquidation managers, but unfortunately the new owner was not obliged to take responsibility for the motorcycles sold by NMUL. Financially, it was NMUL that had to answer to the buyers, and those who bought the defective motorcycles had to declare their right to compensation as part of the liquidation procedure of this enterprise. However, the new owner of Norton promised any assistance in troubleshooting and fixing them – but not at their own expense.
Of course, buyers of the V4 SS were not happy with this story, in particular, with the fact that the new Norton is not going to bear the burden of responsibility for the shortcomings of the old motorcycles. In response, Norton issued a recommendation to take these motorcycles out of service and even disconnect the battery – one of the identified problems was associated with it.
Then, in late June 2021, Norton’s new Chief Executive Officer, Robert Hentschel, announced that despite promises by the interim director to assist in troubleshooting and repairs, Norton was unable to repair these motorcycles due to the lack of a stable supply of adequate quality parts. In fact, the new Norton signed that these bikes left the factory broken and no longer subject to repair. However, Norton also has good news for V4 SS owners: a second iteration of this model is being prepared, which is not a direct update of the first version, and those who buy the first defective model will have the right to purchase the second, serviceable and high-quality, at a special price. At the same time, all responsibility for defective V4 SS of the first version will remain with NMUL, and the right to compensation remains with their owners in full. The second version of the V4 SS will be presented at the end of 2021.
But the main thing in this story is somewhat different. While the legal issues of transferring the Norton brand under new management were being resolved and a new team was being assembled, several owners of V4 SS brought their motorcycles to the Donington factory for warranty service or repairs – and instead of the work carried out, these motorcycles were simply returned to them, having previously removed some components from them. The owners were confident that the components were only removed to fit the new V4 SS prior to being sold.
The consequence of this story was the disqualification of the former director of NMUL Simon Skinner. According to the Directory of Disqualified Directors of the British Insolvency Service (sounds funny, but it is quite a serious organization), Skinner was officially banned from holding a management position in any private company for the next five years from 22 June 2021. It is worth mentioning, incidentally, that in addition to being a member of the NMUL board of directors, Skinner was the head of the development team and project leader of the first generation V4 SS.
The official reason for Skinner’s disqualification is:
Between September 9, 2019 and November 12, 2019, Simon Peter Skinner permitted or authorized the removal of components from at least six fully paid and third-party motorcycles arriving for warranty service for a minimum of £ 123,000 for installation on motorcycles other customers, which led to the incompleteness of the mentioned motorcycles until the moment of suspension.
It’s worth mentioning here that the current management of Norton Motorcycles has kept Skinner on staff as a design employee. In addition, both current Norton Gender Robert Hentschel and Acting Gen Gen John Russell vigorously defended Skinner when asked directly about Skinner in interviews prior to the Insolvency Service report. What this really means – only time will tell, but one thing is clear: the peace of Norton Motorcycles is only a dream.