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TVS Motor to re-start twin spark-plug Flame

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Production will begin this month: Venu Srinivasan.

Mr Venu Srinivasan,Chairman, TVS Motor Company, during the launch of the Flame (file photo).
Mr Venu Srinivasan,Chairman, TVS Motor Company, during the launch of the Flame (file photo).

M Ramesh

Chennai, Aug.12

TVS Motor Company will bring back the Flame, the 125 cc motorcycle that was at the centre of a patent litigation between the company and Bajaj Auto two years ago.

TVS Motor's Chairman and Managing Director, Mr Venu Srinivasan, told Business Line on Tuesday that the company has been selling “small volumes” of the Flame.

TVS Motor is now in the process of switching back to the ‘twin spark-plug' version of the motorcycle. Production is set to start soon.

In 2008, rival two-wheeler manufacturer Bajaj Auto Ltd sued TVS Motor claiming “patent infringement”, holding that the Flame motorcycle had a twin spark plug — a feature that Bajaj said it owned the patent for.

Legal battle

In the the first round of the legal battle, the Madras High Court restrained TVS Motor from selling motorcycles with twin spark-plugs.

TVS won in its appeal in the Supreme Court, but in the meantime, the company had begun selling the Flame motorcycle with single spark-plug.

Following the favourable Supreme Court judgment of September last year, TVS Motor announced the re-launch of twin spark-plug Flame.

Making a point

Perhaps because the market in 2009 was rather lacklustre, it looked like TVS Motor's interest was more to make a point in the market that it had won the patent litigation, and therefore was above reproach.

The company now plans to bring back the Flame with a bang.

“We are clearing the stocks of the single spark-plug version. Production of twin spark-plug Flame will begin this month,” he said.

The Flame will occupy a key slot in TVS Motor's product portfolio.

The company has a range of products in the 100 cc segment (Star, Max 100). Last year, it launched the 110 cc Jive.

As of now, the Jive is selling around 8,000 units a month and Mr Srinivasan is confident of ramping it up to 12,000 by September and to 15,000 during the ‘season' (October-November).

Mopeds are selling well, too, which is a bit of a surprise because it was generally believed that the tiny two-wheeler was a ‘sunset' product.

This year, TVS Motor's moped sales will be up at least 20 per cent.

The company has budgeted to sell 650,000 mopeds this year.

Outside South

“The entire growth of 20 per cent is coming from outside South,” Mr Srinivasan said. This is against the widespread belief that mopeds are a ‘southern phenomenon'.

All of a sudden, the mopeds market seems to have picked up in the North and West.

Mr Srinivasan pointed out that the need for the vehicle was common across the country. “It is a doodh-walla, subzi-walla vehicle.”

Marketing

He felt that if the vehicle had not sold well outside the South earlier, it was more due to less-than-adequate marketing.

To a question, he said that mopeds may be lower-margin vehicles, but their production does occupy significant capacities because mopeds' production lines are unique.

Related Stories:
Apex court allows TVS to sell ‘Flame’
TVS to take a call on selling twin-spark Flame
Despite HC nod, TVS not in a hurry to launch twin-spark Flame
Twin spark plug ignited controversy

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated August 13, 2010)
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