The four-wheeler will be produced at the company’s Aurangabad facility
Bajaj Auto will commence production of its much-awaited new four-wheeler RE60 (product code) in the current financial year.
Addressing media, Rajiv Bajaj, Managing Director, said the company was ready to manufacture the RE60 in a few months time. “The RE60 will be made out of our facility in Aurangabad, which is an existing unit that was manufacturing scooters and has long stopped doing so. The initial capacity will be 200 vehicles per day or 60,000 per annum and can be expanded.”
He said that since the company was using existing facilities, it would save around Rs.300 crore in terms of investment. The RE60 was showcased at the Auto Expo earlier this year. It has a 216-cc petrol engine and weighs 398 kg. Mr. Bajaj said the engine could be converted into LPG and CNG options while a diesel variant could be considered at a later stage.
The company is awaiting green signal from a committee set up by the Central Government for the creation of a new class of four-wheelers, Quadricycles, which the RE60 qualifies as. “The committee is working on the regulations and norms for such vehicles, and we understand that the process for the inclusion of the new class in the Central Motor Vehicles Regulations (CMVR) will take a few months,” said R. C. Maheshwari, President, Commercial Vehicles, Bajaj Auto.
Mr. Maheshwari said the RE60 was focussed on passenger carrying and would be an excellent solution to address the various issues related to green house gas (CO2) emissions and fuel price hikes. “Globally, it has been recognised that vehicles such as quadricycles help mitigate urban crisis of congestion and pollution due to mobility. As such, more than 13 models are planned to be launched in Europe in the next three years.”
When asked whether the company would consider exporting the vehicle while awaiting the regulations in India, Mr. Bajaj said, “We will not hesitate to export first. We anyway sell more three-wheelers overseas than in India. We will certainly look at exporting to Asia, Africa, Latin America and even Europe. The RE60 has been built from day one to comply with international norms and was, in fact, inspired by Euro norms.”
Mr. Bajaj said Sri Lanka could well be the first market that the RE60 was exported to. “It could be Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Egypt or Nigeria — all markets where we export more than 1,000 three-wheelers a month. Although, last year, tariffs went up significantly for Indian products in Sri Lanka, we still sell 7,000 motorcycles and three-wheelers a month there.”
Europe is the largest market for quadricycles and Mr. Bajaj said the company could address that market through its partnership with Renault-Nissan. “We never stopped talking to Renault and at no point have they said they are not interested in the project. It is fine as the project is not hinged on Europe and the main growth markets are Asia, Latin America and Africa.”
Mr. Bajaj also proposed restrictions on quadricycles. “First, they should not be allowed on highways and expressways. Second as in Europe, there should be a weight restriction of 450 kg, and third, there should be a speed restriction of 70 kmph as against 90 in Europe.”