Bajaj Auto rushes to export Quadricycle

Written by Rachit Vats | Mumbai | Updated: Dec 10 2013, 18:26pm hrs
Bajaj AutoBike maker?s domestic launch faces delay on stiff opposition from industry rivals. (AP)
The Bajaj Auto, countrys second-largest bike maker by volume, is rushing to put together export plans for its next generation RE60 or the Quadricycle, much ahead of its now delayed domestic launch which met with stiff opposition from the auto industry. Even as the fate of the domestic launch remains uncertain, the company is initiating a phased commercial launch in international markets by early 2014. It has begun testing out the Quadricycle in a few export destinations.

There has been a change in plans. The Quadricycle will be launched in the export markets first. As we put together the export roadmap for the Quadricycle, it continues to be tested in a few markets, informed a source at Bajaj Auto.

The commercial launch for the Quadricycle in Asia and the West Asia is scheduled to take place in February 2014 followed by a debut in the South American market in April 2014, informed the source. The company is testing out the Quadricycle in Sri Lanka and Egypt. It is readying the vehicle for testing purposes in Peru, South America, by February 2014, which is a left-hand driven market.

When asked for a comment, top company executives refused to give away details. Most of these topics are premature and some of them are confidential information at this stage, said S Ravikumar, senior vice-president (business development & assurance), Bajaj Auto.

The company did not give away the volume numbers for the Quadricycle. Though Bajaj has a strong presence in international markets with exports accounting to over 40% of total sales, Africa accounts for the largest share by volume at 47%. It is relatively new in South America where it has already made inroads in Colombia, Peru and Ecuador and aims to enter Brazil in 2015. The key export destinations for the Quadricycle though will be Europe, Latin America and Asia.

RE60 was unveiled in January 2012 at the auto expo in New Delhi. Though off-late the low-speed Quadricycle, which was scheduled to be launched in Gujarat and Maharashtra in October 2013, now waits for the final approvals from the Centre to commercially introduce the vehicle as leading auto companies continue to lobby against its launch. The state government will have no objection to introduce the Quadricycle in Karnataka once the Centre gives the necessary approvals, said a senior executive with the regional ministry of road transport and highways on condition of anonymity.

In September 2013, the domestic auto industry represented by Tata Motors, TVS Motors, M&M, and Maruti Suzuki submitted their concerns to the Union minister for road transport & highways on the impacts of the inclusion of Quadricycle as a commercial vehicle. The ministry continues to examine the points that were raised.

There is no regulation which has come in so far from the government for a Quadricycle. The basic parameters for a Quadricycle are yet to be finalised, said a senior executive with Maruti-Suzuki.

We are not opposed to the Quaridycle in principal. Our stand is that if Quadricycle is introduced as a substitute to a three wheeler, it should meet all safety standards. Further if it is to be used as a passenger vehicle it should meet and pass all the norms that any other passenger vehicle needs to conform to, he said.