TVS Motors, stung by a patent suit from rival Bajaj Auto, has re-launched its 125-cc motorcycle Flame, with a single spark plug, a higher price and hopes of recovering the Rs 100 crore blow to its topline. TVS is also going to replace the engines in 600-odd Flame motorcycles that were delivered to customers with the old engine.
The redesign was necessitated by a court injunction after Bajaj Auto challenged its patented twin spark plug ignition employed in the original Flame. The Madras High Court had by its interim order on Feb 18 barred TVS from manufacturing and selling Flame 125 or any other bike with the twin spark technology.
The re-launch is aimed at giving a much-needed boost for TVS, which has seen steadily falling sales in the last year. While the motorcycle segment has shrunk overall, the 100 cc segment has seen the maximum fall in sales, prompting the three leading major motorcycle makers, including Hero Honda, to aggressively court the 125 cc ‘executive’ segment, which is the only one showing signs of growth.
TVS motorcycle sales fell 44 per cent to 38,961 units in comparison to 69,634 units recorded in January 2007. “Morale starting from the chairman to the shopfloor mechanic was at an all time low,” said an official with the Chennai-based TVS on condition of anonymity. The Chennai-based TVS registered total two-wheeler sales of 93,385 units in January 2008 against 1,21,147 units in the same period last year.
Exports however, grew by 84 per cent. During the month in the scooter segment, TVS Scooty reported 18,594 units in January 2008 in comparison to 20,534 units in the corresponding period the previous year.
The new engine block has been sourced from AVL, Austria, which is the world’s largest independent laboratory for automotive engine technology, company officials said.“There are minor modifications we would have to do in these bikes,” said Venu Srinivasan, chairman , TVS Motors. “The new engine would give you better power." “There has been no compromise in performance or riding experience. In fact the engine will be much smoother,” Srinivasan said.