Know Your Two-wheeler Brand: TVS Motor Company
From moped maker to being a multinational auto major, here’s how TVS Motor Company’s journey panned out
It all started with TV Sundaram Iyengar, a lawyer-turned businessman from Tamil Nadu who - back in 1911 realised the potential of motor vehicles to change lives and founded the first bus service in Madurai, Tamil Nadu. Business acumen was in his genes, and over the course of years, he passed on the baton to his sons, and his company entered the realm of automotive component manufacturing. The company partnered with UK-based Clayton Dewandre Holdings and started to manufacture automotive components in 1962 under the name Sundaram Clayton.
Almost two decades later, the brand launched India’s first 2-seater 50cc moped, the TVS 50. This unassuming little two-wheeler really cemented the brand’s reputation with its simplicity and reliability. This moped marked the beginning of TVS’ eventful journey in the Indian automotive Industry.
TVS-Suzuki Partnership & Tryst With Racing:
In 1982, TVS dabbled in the world of motorsports The humble TVS 50 moped was stripped down and it blitzed around the track clocking insane speeds of 105kmph back in the day! Five years later TVS created a new entity called TVS Racing which went on to make a name for itself in numerous motorsport events like rally, rallycross and road racing. TVS Racing is also the first to introduce one-make racing championships which has become one of the avenues for budding motorcycle racers from across the country.
1982 also marked an important development with the brand. This was the year when TVS joined hands with Suzuki to form TVS-Suzuki. The Japanese were well-known for their technological prowess and ingenuity, so a lot of Indian companies had started partnering with them. This was a win-win situation for both the companies as the Japs were able to make inroads into the Indian automotive space whereas in return, the Indian companies received the technical knowhow of things.
The 90s witnessed the arrival of many popular two-stroke motorcycles like the Suzuki Shogun and Samurai, which gave enthusiasts a worthy alternative to the RX100 from Yamaha. TVS-Suzuki was also known for offering many first-in-segment features. The Shogun was India’s first bike with a catalytic converter whereas the Shaolin was the country’s first 5-speed motorcycle! TVS didn’t just stop with motorcycles, and in 1994, the brand launched the famed Scooty whose light weight and sleek styling encouraged many women to take up riding.
Dawn of a new independent era:
TVS’ partnership with Suzuki came to an end in 2001. Despite the tightening emission norms and arrival of newer competitors, TVS was still unfazed and went on to launch the Victor, India’s first fully indigenously developed motorcycle.
Around the same time, the 150cc segment was also witnessing a steady growth thanks to the arrival of the legendary Bajaj Pulsar. TVS took their own sweet time to come up with a befitting reply but the wait was completely worth it. The bikemaker launched the TVS Apache in the Indian market in 2005. The Apache range gave the brand a new identity associated with TVS’ Racing genes from then on. That being said, it was actually the Fiero and Fiero F2 which laid the foundation for the Apache range. These bikes were meant to take on the Hero Honda CBZ and the Bajaj Pulsar 150. Even though they couldn’t be called runaway successes, they really heralded TVS’ entry into the 150cc “performance” segment.
In the recent past, there has been an influx of motorcycles in the 300cc segment, and TVS didn’t have a product in its portfolio to take on the bigger bikes. As luck would have it, even premium German marque BMW Motorrad wanted to tap into the segment as it saw huge potential in developing markets. So in 2013, TVS announced its collaboration with BMW Motorrad. Almost four years later, this partnership bore fruition in the form of the TVS Apache RR 310 which was launched in December 2017. With a beautiful and sporty design language, the RR 310 is one of the best-looking, and performing,motorcycles in its segment!
TVS is reportedly working on a naked version of the Apache RR 310 and this motorcycle is likely to be launched next year. Now that the depletion of fossil fuels is pushing manufacturers to make vehicles running on alternative sources of energy, TVS has been experimenting on this front as well. The Hosur-based brand also showcased quite interesting concepts at the 2018 Auto Expo like an ethanol powered Apache RTR 200 4V, a hybrid cruiser called Zeppelin and an electric scooter called Creon. We believe TVS will take the future of mobility up a notch for the 2020 Auto Expo!