Which is the best scooty in India

“A moped for everyone

Motorcycles are the vehicle of choice on India's crowded roads. TVS Suzuki ensures that they are always available in new models and designs and that they meet the needs of the expanding market.In a country with a population close to one billion, most of whom cannot afford a car, motorcycles have become the most popular form of transport. The success story of the Indian motorcycle is also the success story of TVS Suzuki in India, which is well on its way to taking the lead in the local motorcycle industry.

TVS Suzuki is part of the Indian company Sundaram Clayton Ltd., a leading manufacturer of braking systems for commercial vehicles. It all started with a vision that the late Sundaram Clayton CEO Trichur Sundaram Srinivasan had in the 1970s. Srinivasan saw the need for a new affordable passenger transport vehicle for Indian families - one that could carry two people and withstand road conditions in India; it should also weigh less than 150 kilograms. His vision was translated into a new type of moped, the TVS 50, which quickly became a huge success, as Ramasubbu Subramanian, deputy general manager of the company, explains.

TVS, as the new division of Sundaram Clayton was called, began production of the TVS 50 in 1980 in a purpose-built factory in Hosur, a city located in the two southern states of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka (about 30 kilometers from Bangalore). The factory was designed to produce 60,000 mopeds a year.

In 1983 TVS developed a second model, the TVS Champ, with a displacement of 50 cubic centimeters. According to the motto “nomen est omen”, the model achieved two world records in endurance competitions. In June 1992, the first of its kind for mopeds was held in Chennai City. The moped was driven on a special track for 248 hours. The engine ran continuously during these eleven days, even when refueling the moped and when changing tires. The Champ model set its second world record in an altitude endurance competition on one of the highest drivable roads in the world, the Khardungla Pass in northern India.

Today TVS builds five motorcycle models in the range between 50 and 70 cubic centimeters and has a market share of 50 percent in India. When the Indian government allowed foreign investment in 1983, the way was paved for a merger between Sundaram Clayton and the Japanese Suzuki Motor Co. Together, the companies began producing motorcycles and mopeds under the new name TVS Suzuki.
More motorcycles
In 1984 TVS Suzuki launched a new generation of 100 cubic centimeter class motorcycles, and in 1997 no fewer than five different models rolled onto India's roads: the 110 cubic centimeter Shogun, a powerful motorcycle with a 14 hp engine, the Samurai, commonly referred to as the "trouble-free motorcycle"; the Max 100, the most affordable model whose price is tailored to the urban and rural middle classes in India; and finally the latest model, the Shaolin, India's first 140 cubic centimeter motorcycle with five gears. Then there's the MaxR, the standard version of the Max100. In 1997, TVS Suzuki captured 25 percent of the Indian motorcycle market.

In 1993, the company introduced the TVS Scooty, a 60 cubic centimeter scooter with no manual transmission. The TVS Scooty accounts for six percent of the Indian scooter market, which means that well over 100,000 units have been sold in India's cities. The model is also exported to Latin America and Africa.

TVS Suzuki is now the country's second largest motorcycle manufacturer with over three million vehicles on India's roads. The company's annual turnover is around 240 million US dollars (around 432 million marks).

The TVS Suzuki plant in Hosur, which today manufactures both mopeds and motorcycles, is designed in such a way that the assembly lines can be switched from one model to another in a matter of minutes. The most important objectives include overall quality assurance (there are 80 quality control groups in the factory) and motivating the 3,500 employees, using progressive Japanese work strategies.

The results speak for themselves. In 1996 TVS Suzuki grew 37 percent - the average growth rate in the Indian motorcycle industry was 18 percent. In 1997, when the industry stagnated overall, the company increased its market share by two percent to 19 percent.

The rapid rise earned TVS Suzuki the “Emerging Corporate Giant” award from India's Economic Times and Harvard Business School Alumni Association in November 1996.
As Subramanian says, SKF also played a crucial role in the development of TVS Suzuki. The relationship between SKF and TVS began when TVS established the first production facility for mopeds. At the time, the company bought around 50 percent of its ball bearings from SKF.

"In the years that followed, SKF had to work hard to keep pace with TVS Suzuki's expansion and to stay competitive in an increasingly liberalized market," said Srinivasan Rajan, director of SKF's Bangalore facility. With a sharp increase in production at its two factories in Bangalore and Pune, SKF was finally able in 1996 to meet TVS's increased needs at competitive prices without compromising on quality.

At the same time, SKF offered additional services such as weekly and even daily deliveries (due to the proximity of the two factories) and thus keeping an inventory for TVS Suzuki on a monthly basis. The two companies are also linked by computers, which gives TVS constant access to the SKF warehouse and material flow. A three-year contract was signed on September 3, 1997, making SKF the sole ball bearing supplier to TVS.

By the end of 1997, SKF had delivered 3.2 million bearings - around 85,000 per week - in 16 different bearing types to TVS. TVS Suzuki is currently working on the development of new motorcycles: two new models of mopeds, a motorcycle in the 150 cubic centimeter class and a version of the scooter equipped with a manual transmission. SKF will be involved in all development projects, says Subramanian.
Ruth Rembaum-Max
Journalist in New Delhi