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TVS Motor prepares for Victor return

| Updated on January 24, 2018

Pitch perfect At their two-wheeler manufacturing facility in Hosur, TVS has been working overtime to ensurethat the new Victor is devoid of any glitches. (below) The old version of the Victor SR RAGHUNATHAN


The four-stroke moped is also part of the launch menu in the second quarter

Come September and TVS Motor will be all set for the launch of the all-new Victor. This 3-valve 110cc motorcycle will be part of a segment where the Hero Splendor rules the roost with monthly sales of over two lakh units.

“It will remain true to the Victor DNA but relevant to the requirements of 2015,” says a top industry source. Beyond this, very little is known about the bike (which as a brand was first launched in 2001) with TVS playing its cards close to its chest. What is clear, though, is that it will be a key part of the company’s growth strategy in motorcycles.

Big stakes

The executive segment accounts for a lion’s share of India’s two-wheeler sales which are nearly 1.3 million units each month. The Splendor and Passion are the biggest brands in bikes here while Honda’s Activa is head and shoulders above the rest in scooters. TVS, its closest challenger along with Hero, has been building numbers gradually with its Jupiter and Wego scooters. However, the company is yet to make a dent in motorcycles where the Splendor’s supremacy continues uninterrupted despite pressure from the Activa. Challengers like Bajaj Auto have tried their luck with the Discover but it has been difficult to cope with the Splendor’s sustained momentum. TVS, likewise, has not been able to crack this space though it has been far more successful in the entry-level segment with the Star City.

It is here that the Victor becomes absolutely critical in filling this elusive gap. To that extent, it is a make-or-break product for the company in the executive bike category. Sources say tremendous work has gone into the planning process with TVS determined that the Victor should be completely free of predictable irksome defects.

Even while critical parameters like mileage and performance have been addressed, the objective is to ensure that the customer does not face any issues on quality. This perhaps explains the relative delay in launching the bike with TVS working overtime to offer a product devoid of any glitches.

Nostalgia factor

The Victor made its debut nearly 15 years ago when the alliance with Suzuki was still intact. The 110cc bike was, in fact, a complete ‘Made-in-TVS’ product which was produced without any help from its Japanese ally. It took the market by storm and began clocking over 40,000 units each month way back in 2001-02.

The Victor was also the first real threat to (the then) Hero Honda whose Splendor and Passion duo began facing the heat from a new kid on the block. Yet, this seesaw in fortunes did not last long as the market leader got its act together and maintained it even after Hero and Honda parted ways four years ago.

The Victor, in a way, also led to the eventual separation of TVS and Suzuki in 2002. Reports of a rife between the partners had been doing the rounds for some years prior to their official split but it was the Victor which finally paved the way for the divorce. Its remarkable success in a competitive two-wheeler market gave TVS the confidence that it could handle the bike and scooter business on its own.

One could then ask why the company did not capitalise on the momentum of the Victor from 2002 onwards. It launched the 100cc Centra soon thereafter which had everything in place except for a relatively high price tag. The Victor, meanwhile, had 125cc siblings but market dynamics had changed and the aura was clearly not there any longer. Other motorcycles that followed like the Flame, Jive and Phoenix could not replicate the Victor magic though TVS hit the quality sweet spot with Star City which quickly gained market acceptance. Success, likewise, followed with the scooters especially the Jupiter which has led the way in the comeback story.

Focus on quality

TVS has been keeping a low profile for a while now even while its numbers have been increasing with sales now comfortably at over two lakh units each month. The focus is on maintaining top levels of quality and investing in technology, the results of which are more than apparent in recent products like the Wego and Jupiter. These levels of obsessive detail are also being paid to the Victor if it has to post monthly sales of at least 50,000 units.

The second quarter of this fiscal will also see TVS launch a new four-stroke moped. Next to glamorous offerings like bikes and scooters, this humble product may not seem as significant but it still continues to be the single largest selling product with numbers clocking 60,000 units plus every month. The moped was the first revolution on wheels from the TVS stable nearly 35 years ago and is still going strong especially in smaller towns and villages where it is the ideal mode of transport for both people and goods.

Going forward, TVS is expected to consolidate its two-wheeler business further with particular attention being paid to the Victor. Its scooters, which include the Scooty, are on track and the key is to get a strong foothold in the executive commuter space in bikes. It is here that the Victor will have to do its bit on the lines of the Star City in the entry-level slot. Likewise, the premium end is expected to see some interesting initiatives with the Apache while the icing on the cake would be the new motorcycle planned with BMW Motorrad scheduled to debut in 2016.

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Published on June 18, 2015
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