2013 Two-Wheeler Special: TVS Motor looks for speed with the Phoenix

The company is expected to launch two new bikes and one scooter during the next fiscal.

Autocar Pro News DeskBy Autocar Pro News Desk calendar 01 Feb 2013 Views icon6228 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp
The Phoenix, TVS Motor’s first product in the executive motorcycle segment, clocked sales of around 10,000 units in December 2012. In February, the number is expected to touch 15,000. These numbers may not set the sales chart afire, but could help TVS Motor regain lost market share. The company currently has an around 6.5 percent market share in the motorcycle segment and 13 percent in the overall two-wheeler market.

Industry observers and some ancillary makers believe that the company's current market performance doesn’t reflect its strong R&D capabilities. One may recall the 110cc TVS Victor and its healthy performance. The bike was TVS Motor’s first product after taking over its erstwhile partner Suzuki’s stake in the company. The four-stroke 150cc scooter Spectra was another good product that, perhaps, was ahead of its time.

“The Spectra was similar to the current scooters that are doing well in the market. TVS has the R&D wherewithal to develop good products. Perhaps, the Spectra was ahead of its time,” says a senior official of a leading component supplier. There are other examples like the 100cc Centra motorcycle, which was touted as the ‘Fill-it-once-a-month bike’ to reflect its indigenously developed fuel-efficient VT-I engine technology. It claimed to be 10 percent more fuel efficient than its peers, while delivering a then-class-leading 7.5bhp.

What's needed?

So, what is it that TVS Motor requires to be back in the game strong? Agility could be the most important factor. At a time when peers are getting increasingly active, in contrast to the market performance, TVS Motor also, perhaps, needs to be more active in terms of products and marketing strategies.

The company is expected to launch two new bikes and one scooter during the next fiscal. It has already showcased a technology which could find its way into commercial production in its next scooter. Termed ‘TVS Automatic Transmission’, this employs an automatic transmission in place of conventional Continuously Variable Transmission Technology (CVT), which changes gears more seamlessly through electronic control, automatically selecting the gear ratios for a particular riding condition. This enables the engine to run at its most efficient rpm for a range of vehicle operating conditions, thereby maximising the engine performance to achieve peak efficiency, overriding the requirement of a clutch. The technology is aimed at improving fuel efficiency by up to 20 percent.

It is TVS Motor’s R&D capabilities and process that may have made BMW Motorrad interested in discussions for a partnership. These negotiations involving technology pacts are “going ahead”, we learn. In the marketplace, it is the product that talks. A successful deal with BMW can result in some exciting products.

TVS, on its own too, has come up with appealing products such as the Apache (available in 160 and 180cc versions). But with time, it is facing stiffer competition. The company is learnt to be working on even more powerful bikes. In a youth-oriented market, generating excitement along with offering cutting-edge technology will be key to garner a respectable share in the segment. But for now, TVS' focus is on capturing a fair share of the 125cc segment (of around 150,000 motorcycles a month) with the Phoenix. In a flat motorcycle market during April-December 2012, the segment has posted a 33 percent YoY growth. The company now needs to feed its network of 800-odd dealers to leverage that growth potential, and more.

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