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The best deals on wheels” — ask any vintage automobile enthusiast and they will not deny this claim in advertisements of Vijai Super/Deluxe Scooter. When the Indian men’s cricket team won the World Cup for the first time in 1983, the government gifted each member of the winning team a Vijai Super Scooter.

For Indians growing up in the 1970s and ’80s, Vijai Super was a prized possession. Years before Bajaj became near-ubiquitous, Vijai gave Indians the joy of scooter riding. It was the first time, for many middle-class families, that their dreams of owning a vehicle could be realised.

Manoj Kumar, an Ambala-based automobile enthusiast, recalls, “There was no scooter like Vijai Super, and I never found one ever again. I rode it for several years smoothly, there were no issues with the scooter at all.”

Produced by Scooter India Ltd, it had a sleek design and styling that made it an instant hit — think a unique headlight, easy-to-read speedometer and centrally-placed engine.

The Italian and Pakistani connections

Scooter India Ltd, a company owing its origin to the Italian company Innocenti, was opened in 1972. Then Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi, laid its foundation stone in Lucknow. Innocenti was incorporated by the Government of India, which bought stock, barrel and rights of production from the Italian company and moved the production to India under SIL’s name. The company was initially started as a joint venture between Innocenti and Automobile Products of India (API) which used to make Lambretta scooters.

After three years, it began the production of scooters under the brand name of Vijai Super for the domestic market. The first scooter to be manufactured by SIL was the Vijai/Deluxe DL, which was further enhanced to Vijai Super. It is believed that the name of the scooter Vijai — which literally means victory — was inspired by India’s 1971 victory in the war with Pakistan.

SIL later added one more wheel to its product range and introduced three-wheelers under the brand name of Vikram/Lambro. The three-wheeler proved to be a good investment with a durable life and economical prices. These three-wheelers became more relevant in the socio-economic environment for transporting goods and passengers at least cost.

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Also read: Hamara Bajaj — the jingle that became a symbol of Indian pride


Increasing options, declining sales

However, in 1997, the company discontinued its two-wheeler production and concentrated only on manufacturing and marketing of three-wheelers. Many believe that the company lost its way due to lack of innovation, product diversification and increased competition by other scooter makers. Other products, such as Bajaj’s Chetak and Priya Scooters, were also providing tough competition to the brand.

“There was a time during the 1990s when there were very few mechanics to repair the Vijai Super. I eventually started repairing it myself, but had to finally sell it when its replacement parts were not available anymore in the market,” Manoj Kumar tells ThePrint.

Sale and production of three-wheelers continued but was also hit by strong competition.

In 2011, the government had proposed a package worth Rs 202 crore to revive the loss-making company. The company achieved profits by reducing the weight of its vehicles and lowering energy costs at its plant. But it was not enough to put the loss-making company back on track. In 2015, the Government of India, which holds 93.47% stakes, was reportedly planning to sell SIL.

In 2016, NITI Aayog identified the PSUs that were making losses and suggested disinvestment in them. SIL was one of them. The PSU was put up for sale in 2018, but according to a report by Economic Times, it has not received a single bid. Meanwhile, it plans to bring back electronic-vehicle technology.


Also read: Lambretta: The Italian two-wheeler that became a ‘dad scooter’ for the big Indian family


 

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5 Comments Share Your Views

5 COMMENTS

  1. The author is grossly mistaken. Bajaj scooters were favourites much much before the era of Vijay scooters. Those who couldn’t buy Bajaj, bought Vijay because it was off the shelf. Quality and popularity wise Bajaj scooters were far far ahead of the Vijay scooters. I myself was the proud owner of one of the earliest Vijay. But it was no match to the Bajaj scooters. The author seems to be a recent born person who doesn’t have much idea of India’s industrial history.

  2. I am afraid there are factual errors in your article on Vijai Super. It was built on the the then latest Lambretta scooter. The company was set up in India as Scooters India and started manufacturing the Lambretta as Vijai Deluxe after Mrs. Indira Gandhi bought out the Innocenti scooter plant. Innocenti was the company that owned the brand Lambretta and had gone bankrupt. Scooters India also bought out designs from Innocenti. Vijai Deluxe was not given to the Indian cricket team but to the World Cup winning hockey team in 1975 under the captaincy of Ajit Pal Singh. This kick started the manufacture and sales of the Vijai Deluxe. Later on Scooters India allowed Andhra Pradesh scooters to manufacture under licence the same scooter under the brand name Vijai Pushpa which later on became Allwyn Pushpak. Karnataka also set up Karnataka Scooters and sold the same scooter as Falcon. Then Kerala scooters also sold the same scooter, I cannot recall under what name. However the important point is by this time design changes were carried such as a vertically mounted stepny instead of the original horizontal one and an articulating front mudguard instead of the fixed one and became Vijai Super. One should remember all iterations of this scooter were available off the shelf while Bajaj 150 had a waiting list of 15 to 20 years. This scooter did not precede the Bajaj 150 which began life as the Vespa 150. It had no competition with the Vespa based scooter proving superior to the Lambretta and Mac sold by Bombay based Automotive Products of India which sold ancient models of the Lambretta. Please correct the factual errors and inconsistencies in the article. Bajaj first faced competition from LML XE which was also a Vespa sold as Vespa XE.

    • Ur r 100% right
      The author could not present the point of competition between Bajaj n vijai super properly .
      I was proud owner of both the scooter s
      I am still having one Bajaj Chetak which I use for local movement s
      And I still remember the ride on vijai super as my first scooter given to me by my father at the age of 17 yrs
      I use to ride with four or five friends on the scooter then only at the speed of 80+

  3. I have a Bajaj chetak 12vol.electronic that is 1996 model. I am still driving this vehicle very proudly also .Govt is making it driving ban due to older model and 15 years fitness is finished.Very sorry for . My scooter is still giving 50 km average mileage.

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