Jan 25, 2007

What should TVS do in 2008?

It's an interesting question, no? For the uninitiated, let me paint up a quick perspective for that question. Until launching the Apache, TVS wasn't known for many things. On that list, and near the top, were items like styling, enthusiast appeal and crucially, timing. With the Apache, TVS proved that they could actually style up a product to tickle the enthusiast. Yes, there has been some debate about how much of the Apache resembles the Pulsar etc. But we shall not go there right now. The Apache also proved that timing remains an issue. The Apache came out at the fag end of the first 150 skirmishes, missing most of the action. And then, within a few months (just as TVS were getting into the full productions swing of things), Bajaj had the digitally boosted 150 (Phantom) out. Oo er...

Now, the question is, what should TVS do in 2008. First the generals and the specifics. In general, TVS should work faster, and ramp up production quicker. I've seen the months it takes for the company to bring up production numbers to match demand and by that time a fair number of prospective customers have already made other purchases. And are busy telling their friends funny tales about how the TVS dealer hadn't a bike to sell him! They should also launch products quicker. Some development and upgrade cycles are too long. Thorough engineering (a traditional TVS strength) is great, but if it means you will always, perpetually, play catch up, it isn't really worth much in sales terms, is it? Third, TVS needs to commit to a stance. The Apache, for instance, was for the enthusiast. So why, oh why, did they stop just short and give it commuter ergos? Who were they aiming to please?

Now to the specifics. Since the question is too open ended let's add some restrictors. It should be a premium segment bike – since I couldn't be bothered to dissect future trends in the commuter market. It should be reasonable. Which means saying that TVS should make a 16000cc inline 16 with 6000 bhp and two wheels isn't gonna cut it. (It'd be nice, eh?). It should not be outrageously expensive. And it should be a real, saleable bike.

Let's see. If I were TVS, I'd start by looking at what would bring me image. Why? Because if TVS are to play the premium segment game with any success then they must be perceived as a dashing, smashing sort of brand.

So, what would I do. If the market forecasts that float about are correct, Bajaj will have a 300-odd cc product in the market during that year. But obviously, if the 220 is priced at Rs 84,000 on-road (Pune), then the 300 should touch the lakh mark.

Should TVS aim for a 500, then? I would. But it isn't a reasonable proposition, so forget it. In which case, what I would do is to launch a superb 250. It won't be cheap, but it'd be incomparable. And that will bring the sales. That means 25 kpl, RD350 beating performance (please don't give my any horseshit about that not being possible), and single-minded performance focus. With Intensity.

Plus it would have to have all the goodies. That means, sexy alloy wheels, tubeless tyres (ideally low profile, performance spec), upside down forks, monoshock, clip-ons, standard seat cowl (to convert it to a single seater), fuel injection, maintenance-free battery, digital dash and a sexy (foreign bike aping) exhaust.

Basically, it'd have to match (ideally outdo) the 220 for features and beat it for performance. The price could be a bit more, and that would be just fine. I would also take the bike way ahead of the Apache on styling and give it a new name entirely. I'd look at it as the smallest product from a platform that could yeild products up 400-500cc in the future. I'm a little cross-eyed about whether I'd put a fairing on it or not, but I think I would. I'm not convinced other manufacturers would have done that by then, in which case, it would be another feather in the TVS cap.

For inspiration, I'd look at the following bikes:
Ducati Monster, Cagiva Raptor, Cagiva Mito, Aprilia RS50

2 comments:

road-yo said...

" sexy alloy wheels, tubeless tyres (ideally low profile, performance spec), upside down forks, monoshock, clip-ons, standard seat cowl (to convert it to a single seater), fuel injection, maintenance-free battery, digital dash and a sexy (foreign bike aping) exhaust." ..... on a TVS? in a segment which does not exist?? without another bike from which to copy???

That's a leeeeeetle bit difficult, don't you think?

rearset said...

Yes, but there's always hope, right?

Pessimist!