Mon 03, Dec 2018
The hype around the launch of Tata Nano a few years back, Bajaj auto has finally got the smallest passenger vehicle for the Indian market, which is said to compete with the entry level cars of the country. With the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways recognizing quadricycle as non-transport vehicle under the Motor Vehicles Act 1988, Bajaj stands out to be the first manufacturer in the segment.
A quadricycle is defined by its size, which is similar to a three-wheeler but has four-tyres and is fully covered like a car. Its engine resembles that of a three-wheeler, which is cheap to manufacture and considered as a safe mode of transport for the last-mile connectivity too.
In the month of June 2018, the Indian Government recognized quadricycle to be included as a new category of road legal vehicle. In the final notification the government has specified the specs of quadricycle in terms of its weight, emission, and safety features.
With this inclusion, Bajaj Auto becomes the first company to enter the market under the leadership of its managing director, Rajiv Bajaj. In 2012, Bajaj Auto first introduced its quadricycle called Qute, but failed to launch it in the Indian market as the industry bodies challenged the vehicle in the Supreme Court for not being approved as road legal by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, mainly due to the safety concerns. However, in the lack of proper guidelines by the government, the company started exporting Qute to other countries.
At just 400Kg, this light weighted vehicle comes with a 216 cc engine, which can reach a maximum of 70 kmph and is expected to be priced at 1.5 Lakh. The company plans to launch a non-transport version with some small changes, by February 2019.
Last year, annoyed by the obstacles faced by his company to launch the quadricycle in India, Rajiv Bajaj said, "If your innovation in the country depends on the Government approval or the judicial process, it will not be a case of 'Made in India', but 'Mad in India'. After five years, we are still waiting for permission to sell our four- wheeler in the country,”. He quoted that the quadricycle is successfully sold across countries in Europe, Asia and Latin America, but failed to understand the reason for being allowed in India, despite being cleaner, fuel-efficient, safer and other obvious benefits.
"This is the only country that has not given us permission to sell these vehicles. Because for some reason it thinks if four-wheeler is worse, let people continue on three- wheeler," Bajaj said.
With the launch of Qute, Bajaj Auto — which calls itself an "anti-car" company — is expected to disrupt the entry-level car segment. After the government’s approval of legalizing the quadricycles in February, companies like Mahindra & Mahindra and Tata Motors too are gearing up to enter the segment. It has now become an attractive segment for car manufactures.
Mahindra too had showcased its quadricycle concept at the 2018 Auto Expo, while Tata Motors is collecting its learning from the Nano project, for a stronger re-entry into the market. Mahindra’s quadricycle project, codenamed C101, has witnessed a slower pace of development than other projects in the category. The government’s nod for personal use is now likely to fuel its development.
The managing director of Mahindra & Mahindra, Pawan Goenka stated that the company plans to launch the majority of concept vehicles showcased in 2018 Auto Expo in the next two to three years time. On the other hand, Tata Motors MD Guenter Butschek said that the company is analyzing the quadricycle segment, but not in their priority list. Former MD of Tata Motors, Karl Slym, had challenged the government’s plans to come out with a quadricycle policy in 2012-13.
Source: Bajaj Auto