Geeta NairBajaj Auto’s quadricycle named Qute is all set to go electric. Qute is the country’s first quadricycle and now it will also be the first electric quadricycle on Indian roads. Last week Bajaj Auto’s board approved the incorporation of a wholly-owned subsidiary to leverage growth opportunities in the electric mobility space and venture into manufacturing electric and hybrid vehicles in the two, three and light four-wheeler categories. The Qute is a light four-wheeled vehicle in the company’s portfolio. It is currently available only in petrol and CNG engines.
Rakesh Sharma, executive director, Bajaj Auto, confirmed that the company would be working on the electric Qute. The company is also at present working on a BS-VI version of the Qute.
Bajaj Auto has waged a long battle mainly with regulatory authorities and dealt with numerous court cases to get the approvals to launch the quadricycle on the Indian roads. The nod from the central government for the creation of this category came in with permission to run it as public transport for the intracity movement. However, the development of the quadricycle category has been slow in the country.
According to Sharma, the introduction of Qute had been a long and arduous journey as it had to navigate the process of creating a new set of regulations at the centre and then at each state level. Development of a new category would have long lead times, but Sharma says, the company would persist through a combination of experimentation and very focused scale-ups.
New regulations also called for an upgrade to BS-VI engines and Qute also had to conform to this. The company is working on the BS-VI upgrades for all variants of the Qute and this is expected to be completed by the third quarter of this financial year, after which the company would make efforts towards the development of this new category, Sharma said. Bajaj Auto will restart the sale of the Qute in November 2021 in Kerala and Karnataka, Sharma said.
The focus of the company would be on developing the Qute as a smart taxi and position it between the 3-wheeler and a car. It would offer the comfort of a car and nearly three-wheeler like travel costs. Speaking at the company AGM recently, Sharma said Bajaj was collaborating with taxi aggregators to take the Qute proposition to the masses.
The company has collaborated with taxi aggregator, Uber in a pilot in Bengaluru with positive user feedback from one lakh customers. In October-November after Covid restrictions are relaxed, this partnership will gain momentum again in Bengaluru and be rolled out to other metros. The next stop would be Hyderabad. Sales will commence in quarter four of this financial year.
Sharma said Qute was introduced in ten overseas markets in Latin America and Africa and was running there for three years. In Q1FY22, 1,600 units of the Qute had been exported and is expected to sustain this level of exports this year. The Qute will be introduced in seven new overseas markets by FY23.
Qute is being positioned in the taxi segment and promising commuters travelling in the comfort of a car at the price of a three-wheeler ride. The Qute is a 4-wheeler designed for intra-city travel that seats the driver plus three persons. It has an enclosed body structure with doors, hardtop roof, steering wheel and speed capped at 70 km/hour.
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