Nearly six years after TVS Motor Company joined hands with BMW Motorrad, the Chennai-based company is yet to see any substantial benefits from the partnership even as the German heavyweight has raced ahead.
Through the partnership, TVS — the country’s fourth largest two-wheeler maker — had intended to break its perceived image of a being a moped and scooter manufacturer, and move towards a premium brand positioning. But, it seems to be struggling to do so.
With little over 5,000 units clocked in its first year, sales of the TVS Apache RR 310 has remained disappointingly low while that of BMW 310 series crossed a significant milestone last month, of 50,000 units in less than two years.
The TVS bike has underperformed when compared against the internal target set by the company of selling 10,000 units in its first year of launch.
The Apache RR 310, BMW G 310 R and BMW G 310 GS are built on the same platform, powered by the same engine and are built at the TVS Motor’s factory in Tamil Nadu.
The two companies had joined hands in early 2013, for a non-equity based partnership that was committed to sharing of technology and manufacturing facility as well as jointly developing new products.
After several delays, TVS was able to launch the Apache RR 310 in December 2017, more than nine months after the twin BMWs started exports. After a gap of more than a year, the two BMWs were launched in India at a significant premium compared to the TVS bike.
Even though the two BMWs are priced higher — at Rs 2.99 lakh (G 310 R) and at Rs 3.49 lakh (G 310 GS) — than the TVS Apache RR 310 (priced at Rs 2.23 lakh), the latter has seen lesser sales in India.
“The launch of TVS Apache RR 310 is our first foray into super premium category. It is the most advanced and exclusive offering in our product portfolio as it is a manifestation of 35 years of learnings from the race track, coupled with cutting-edge technology. The bike was available in 50 dealerships across 40 cities in India at the time of launch. Over the past year, we have expanded our reach to 60 dealerships across 46 cities. In 2019, we will consolidate our presence in the country by expanding our network and grow the brand further”, TVS Motor said in response to Moneycontrol‘s query.
Relying on the moped
Though TVS had built its brand image in the premium motorcycle market with the Apache brand followed with an attempt to push it further helped by its association with BMW, more than one-fourth of its sales continue to come from mopeds.
TVS remains the only company to make mopeds, whose average selling price is Rs 33,600 running across four variants. This is substantially less than the average price of the highest selling TVS model Jupiter at Rs 56,000.
Till November this year, the TVS XL 100 (moped) clocked more than six lakh unit sales with a growth of 6 percent emerging as the second highest selling model for TVS after Jupiter. Meanwhile, with the lukewarm response for the Apache RR 310, TVS is struggling to make the cut in the premium motorcycle segment.
The XL 100 generates annual revenue of around Rs 2,900 crore while the Apache RR 310 is understood to have generated around Rs 114 crore in revenues in its first 12 months.
“TVS XL100 is a multi-utility vehicle, which caters to the mass market. TVS Apache RR 310 belongs to a niche market and the two products are designed to meet specific requirements of different set of customers. We are happy with the response we are receiving from our customers for both our products”, added the company.