Bajaj Autos first 4-wheeler set to roll out next year

Written by fe Bureau | Mumbai | Updated: Jul 14 2011, 08:38am hrs
At a time when its alliance with Renault-Nissan for the launch of an ultra low-cost (ULC) car is reportedly on shaky ground, Bajaj Auto has said it will launch its first product from the four-wheeler project next year. Recent reports have suggested that Bajaj is going on its own with the four-wheeler project.

In its annual report 2010-11, Bajaj Auto said development work on the four-wheel vehicle is under progress and commercial launch of the first product from this platform is scheduled for 2012.

Marc Nassif, MD, Renault India, was quoted in a report that the company has not yet seen the ULC prototype to take a call on marketing it, and that the vehicle was not part of their launch plans. Industry observers feel this signals a relationship gone sour between the French and Japanese auto majors and Bajaj. As per the original plan, the alliance was supposed to launch the ULC in 2012, with Bajaj responsible for manufacturing the product and Renault-Nissan, for marketing and branding. The ULC was announced in May 2008, roughly a year ahead of the launch of the Tata Nano, the world's cheapest car.

The Nano was subsequently launched in March 2009.

FE, in an earlier report, had said that the tie up between the auto companies for the ULC had hit a rough patch and that Bajaj Auto is expected to launch a four-wheeler in 2012. Rajiv Bajaj, managing director, preferred to call the product a four-wheeler than a car, and had said that the vehicle will be produced at company's Aurangabad plant, where it has dormant infrastructure of its erstwhile scooter business. Bajaj had also said that the four-wheeler platform will draw synergies from its three-wheeler platform.

The four-wheeler is expected to be a van by Bajaj Auto, said an auto analyst, adding that the van segment has seen a lot of action in the last one year. During April-June 2011, the van segment grew by 29.28%.