Business

Bajaj Chetak makes a comeback in e-avatar

Union Minister Nitin Gadkari, Rajiv Bajaj, MD, Bajaj Auto, and Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant at the launch.

Union Minister Nitin Gadkari, Rajiv Bajaj, MD, Bajaj Auto, and Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant at the launch.  

Company will continue to focus on motorcycles for volumes, says Rajiv Bajaj.

Bajaj Auto on Wednesday re-introduced the iconic scooter brand Chetak, albeit in an electric avatar. The company, however, will be announcing the price of the product in January when the sales will begin.

The launch comes close on the heels of the company’s recent disagreement with Niti Aayog over the government think tank’s proposal to ban ICE-based three-wheelers after 2023, and less than 150 cc two-wheelers by 2025.

‘No change in strategy’

The company’s MD Rajiv Bajaj said that the launch of the e-scooter did not mean that the company was making a comeback into the traditional scooter segment.

“We are not changing our strategy,” he said, adding that Bajaj Auto would continue to focus on motorcycles for volume, while the e-scooter, along with other brands like KTM and Triumph, would act as ‘meaningful’ additions in niche segments.

Conflict of interest

“The biggest hurdle [for electric vehicles] is the conflict of interest in the minds of manufacturers since they are making money from petrol and diesel vehicles. The fact that Bajaj doesn’t sell scooters is our biggest strength as far as electric scooter is concerned. We are starting from here because there is no conflict of interest. Everything is additional sales,” he said.

While he did not share the investment that went into building the e-vehicle, Mr. Bajaj pointed out that as a result of reduction in corporate tax, the company would save about ₹400-500 crore.

The company would initially sell the new Chetak in Pune and Bengaluru.

While announcing the new Chetak, Mr. Bajaj took a dig at some of his competitors, saying that he was surprised that “some battery makers had launched electric vehicles. “What surprised me even more is that some who were importing TV, fridge, mobiles have also started selling electric scooters.” He added that another two-wheeler had invested in a electric two-wheeler start-up. “We at Bajaj are engineers and we make our own things,” he said.

The new scooter was launched by Road and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari and Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant. Mr. Gadkari promised that the government would soon come out with a scrappage policy, which would open up the country for bringing in scrap from other international markets as well.

Mr. Kant added that India needed to become a global manufacturing hub for electric vehicles as it had already lost in the manufacturing of four-wheelers, mobile phones, telecom equipment and solar cells.

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Printable version | Mar 29, 2020 6:31:29 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/business/bajaj-chetak-makes-a-comeback-in-e-avatar/article29714764.ece

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