The co-operation agreement between TVS Motor Company and BMW Motorrad to jointly develop a new series of bikes under 500cc is a direct result of increased competition to both the 2-wheeler giants in their respective markets. In BMW’s traditional markets like Europe and USA, the global economic slowdown seems to have taken the shine off the German manufacturer’s large capacity bikes, and their customers seem to have taken a liking towards more economical smaller displacement bikes. With KTM crowned as Europe’s No.1 motorcycle manufacturer, thanks to the introduction of the successful Duke 125/200 series, and Honda coming up with a series of 500cc bikes, BMW has no option but to follow suit, and take the fight to its competitors. TVS Motors’ expertise in large volume production, combined with inexpensive labour costs in India, will prove to be an asset to the Germans. Also, introducing lower-capacity bikes would help BMW to strengthen its presence in developing markets like India, South East Asia, and South America.
In India, the performance biking sector has seen a drastic makeover in the last two years, with the introduction of bikes like the Yamaha R15, KTM Duke 200 and the Honda CBR 150R & 250R, all equipped with the latest technology and offering high performance. TVS, which was once a market leader in the segment, hasn’t launched a new performance bike since the Apache RTR 180 in 2009. With stiff competition that shows no sign of abating and a matured customer base equipped with higher purchasing power than before, TVS will have to launch higher-capacity bikes to compete with the likes of Yamaha, Honda and KTM. Access to BMW’s technological innovations and R&D facilities in Germany will prove to be a shot in the arm for TVS.
Although bikes made in this collaboration will be developed together, they will be sold separately as distinctive products by each brand, so as not to tread on each other’s target markets. Now, take a peek into our speculations as to what the collaboration could possibly conceive.
1) 250cc Apache
Rumours about a larger capacity Apache have been around for a long time, and with the JV in place, it is all but confirmed. The bigger Apache might employ a 250cc single cylinder engine, with an eye on costs, and be offered in two variants, a sporty version with a full-fairing, and a naked streetfighter version. Whether BMW would incorporate a derivative of this bike in its product line-up remains to be seen.
2) New enduro tourer/Smaller GS
The two companies could possibly develop a low capacity enduro tourer, which would serve as competition to the upcoming Honda CB500X. This would be a great product for markets like South East Asia and South America, where there is high demand for such bikes.
3) New maxi-scooter/smaller C600
A new maxi-scooter with a low-capacity engine is another possibility. This vehicle would benefit both companies – a maxi-scooter displacing more that 200cc from TVS could potentially open up a new segment in India, and would offer BMW customers in Europe a more economical alternative to the existing 650cc scooters
4) Smaller F-series bike
A lower-capacity F-series bike, employing a 500cc twin-cylinder engine could be another possibility. With Honda launching the CBR500R and the CB500F, Kawasaki launching their Ninja 400R and KTM their Duke 390 in 2013, BMW would definitely have its sights set on capturing a good chunk off this new segment.
Fans of both brands can expect some interesting and exciting motorcycles to be rolled out in the coming years, with the first product of this joint venture expected to hit the market by 2015.