On Monday, TVS Motor celebrated the milestone of 4 million global sales of its Apache bike series, in yet another instance of how the two-wheeler major charts its own course to take on the competition.
The company does, after all, have some history of beating the headwinds to emerge successful — be it its venture into mopeds or the challenging partnership with Japan’s Suzuki.
While TVS Motor has demonstrated its engineering and tech prowess by developing bikes and scooters in the commuter segment, its indigenously-developed Apache led its journey into the high-end bike segment.
Launched as a 150cc bike in 2005, Apache was its first sporty motorcycle with chiseled looks, supported by superior engine technology that lent the company a new face, young and vibrant.
“Apache is the result of TVS’ racing heritage and was born on the race track. It has become a platform to bring our learnings from the race track,” said KN Radhakrishnan, TVS Motor’s Director and CEO.
Over the years, the company focussed strongly on premiumising the Apache, rolling out several higher CC variants. It continued to introduce new technologies and different variants of the brand from time to time.
In December 2017, TVS Motor began a new chapter in its premium play with the introduction of Apache RR 310, its most powerful and expensive bike yet, which marked its entry into the bastion of Royal Enfield Motors, the leader in the above-250cc-350cc segment. Apache RR 310 was the first product from the TVS Motor-BMW Motorrad alliance.
While it took more than seven years for Apache to achieve the first million sales mark, the latest one million — from 3 to 4 million — was achieved in just two years.
Sporty, aspirational bike
“The Apache series helped propel TVS into the ‘sporty’ and aspirational bike segment, from its former identification as a commuter bike brand, and attracted the younger demography towards it. Its sporty look and peppy performance were its core differentiators,” said Suraj Ghosh, Principal Analyst - Powertrain Forecasts, IHS Markit.
The Apache series helped TVS Motor achieve a leadership position in the above-150cc-200cc segment with a significant market share. In FY20, its market share in the segment stood at about 48 per cent.
“And now, with several variants and engine displacement sizes, it offers a wide range of high-performance bikes in the mid-size bike segment. And this segment has seen tremendous growth in the last decade. So, the Apache series did definitely help in TVS’ growth and enhanced brand image,” Ghosh added.
Apache has been a hit in the global markets too — Latin America, South Asia and West Africa — standing out for its value proposition, seen as it is to offer high quality at an affordable price point. Additionally, its aftersales service record has been quite satisfactory.
However, the road ahead for the Apache series is expected to be challenging. The competition has intensified over the past few months, with Bajaj and Honda upping their ante in the segment.
Whether Apache will play to its strengths and maintain its dominance in the segment is to be seen.