Bajaj Auto is the latest manufacturer to enter the growing electric vehicle market in India, with a brand that is iconic in its history. The company is bringing back the Chetak scooter, this time in an electric avatar for the Indian consumers, which will be available from early 2020 onwards.
“We have decided to move towards electric vehicles (EV) and started its production in September at the Chakan plant,” Rajiv Bajaj, Managing Director, Bajaj Auto said at the event on Wednesday.
The electric scooter market in the country is probably the most viable option for automakers right now, with cars proving to be an expensive proposition to sell. This, however, comes naturally to Bajaj, and according to the company’s chief, “electric vehicles cannot be made at the click of a finger by anyone.”
However, it was interesting to see that the Chetak electric scooter (ES) comes without the Bajaj logo, which probably suggests, the company is looking to ride on the goodwill of the brand itself.
Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways of India, talked about the cost-effective measure of buying an electric scooter, which, eventually will attract consumers in the country to switch from petrol-running vehicles to more environment-friendly options.
“More competition means, good prices to the consumers”Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways of India
Speaking about the government support for the auto industry, Gadkari mentioned that “our policy is to reduce the cost of Indian manufacturing, reduce the import bill and have a thriving indigenous manufacturing industry.” He even said that India doesn't need a timeline for EV adoption, which has been much debated in the news over the last couple of months.
But the event will probably hold your interest for an interesting comment made by Rajiv Bajaj, taking a dig at every other company, looking to enter the EV market in the country.
“In our country, there’s a new EV launched everyday. I watch with amazement that how people who have spent their whole lives making batteries, motors or just plain steel, suddenly think they can make EVs at the click of their finger.”Rajiv Bajaj, Managing Director, Bajaj Auto
In addition to this, he also pointed out that importing phones from China and making EVs are two different business models. This was directed at one of the recent companies, looking to ‘revolutionise India roads’ he said.
But even more amazed to see people who’ve mostly imported ACs, refrigerators and mobile phones from China, suddenly want to revolutionise our roads, by making EVs out of thin air.Rajiv Bajaj, Managing Director, Bajaj Auto
And finally, he decided to mock one of its rivals in the two-wheeler segment. “There are existing two-wheeler makers, who promptly go and invest in the south-based EV company as if it’s someone else’s responsibility to make EVs for them.”
Talking about the new Chetak, it packs an IP67 rated high-tech lithium-ion battery with Nickel Cobalt Aluminum Oxide (NCA) cells. It will let you ride in two modes - eco and sport with 95km and 85km range respectively.
Its headlamps mirror the design of a horseshoe and get DRLs but more importantly, we like the clean digital console which shares riding information and battery life remaining in the scooter. Bajaj mentioned that it will be priced below Rs 1.5 lakh (ex-showroom) and will most likely come to the market by early next year.