Bajaj Auto finally shows intent to launch EVs

S Ronendra Singh New Delhi | Updated on October 16, 2019 Published on October 16, 2019

(L to R): Nitin Gadkari, Minister of Road Transport and Highways, Rajiv Bajaj, MD, Bajaj Auto Ltd and S Amitabh Kant, CEO Niti Ayog unveil the all-new Bajaj Chetak electric scooter in New Delhi.   -  Kamal Narang

To roll out ‘Chetak’ e-scooter in January

NITI Aayog Chief Executive Officer Amitabh Kant on Wednesday said that amidst disruption in the electric automobile category, the country should not miss the bus of being a hub for electric vehicles (EVs) in the world.

Missing the bus

“We are in the midst of the biggest disruption in the mobility world. And, whether we like it or not, this disruption will take place, the world will move away from combustion engine — from 2,000 parts to 20 odd parts — and the cost of battery will fall radically... and therefore, the cost of an EV and the total cost of ownership, and consumer will go for it,” he said here on Wednesday.

Speaking at the unveiling of a Bajaj electric scooter, Kant said that India missed out on many areas in various industries. “We lost out on solar cells, we lost out on mobile manufacturing/telecom equipment and in all these areas we have become a major importing nation.”

The think-tank had a few months back told the industry clearly that “we must lay out a clear road map and we said not one year, two years, five years, but six years we give you — six years down the line you must become the dominant form of manufacturing for electric two and three wheelers,” Kant explained.

“Led by Rajiv Bajaj and Venu Srinivisan (of TVS Motor Company) they protested and objected and they kind of said that ‘this policy is wrong and they said that ‘we will get a study done... We have not got the study till date,” Kant said.

Kant also mentioned that he was happy to see that Bajaj has unveiled an electric scooter, which means that “they can also be part of the future mobility.”

Cheaper alternative

Nitin Gadkari, Minister for Road Transport and Highways, who was the chief guest, said the government’s dream of electric cars, two-wheelers, buses is progressing very fast so it was required to push companies towards e-mobility to save on fuel import bill.

“Our job is just to push it otherwise nobody will do so on their own. Everybody loves status quo. I can see that our dream of electric cars, two-wheelers, buses is progressing very fast. There is a lot of talk of timelines but I think it is not required. Electricity, as a fuel, is so cheap, pollution-free, and the cost will also come down as volumes go up, that people will make a beeline for them,” he said.



Defending himself, Rajiv Bajaj, Managing Director, Bajaj Auto, said, “My only disagreement (with NITI Aayog) was when a policy was proposed for a very rapid conversion to 100 per cent EVs by 2023 and 2025. Thankfully, that prospect seems to have faded... we are constantly trying to align ourselves with the government’s policies.”

Bajaj Auto is the first major combustion engine manufacturer to unveil an EV. It launched an e-scooter ‘Chetak’, which will hit the road in January — in Pune and Bengaluru — to start with. The price will also be announced at the time of the launch, Bajaj said.


More read: India has potential to become one of the largest electric vehicles markets


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Published on October 16, 2019
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