Rajiv Bajaj analyzes the new electric vehicle companies; How should we take it?
NEW DELHI: Rajiv Bajaj , the managing director of Auto Baja , known for his firm and unbridled opinion, on Wednesday he examined the influx of new electric vehicle companies, questioning their core competencies to build vehicles.
Speaking at the launch of electric Chetak (e-Chetak), Rajiv Bajaj said, “I am surprised that battery, motor makers have launched electric vehicles and what surprised me even more is that some who were importing TV, fridge, mobiles have also started selling electric scooters. Whereas some other failed automakers have launched products in electric scooter space and some other two-wheeler makers went down south and invested in electric two-wheeler startups as if it was not their job. But we at Bajaj are engineers and we make our own things, ”he asserted.
Interestingly, it should be noted that India's largest two-wheel manufacturer was one of the first investors to start electric scooters -Ather Energy. Although, the company later established its own dedicated EV division.
However, Bajaj's point of view cannot be ignored completely, as many of these startups have not gone beyond a minor modification and assembly of the imported kit. On the other hand, Auto Baja which had scooters in its DNA, aims to be the first among traditional two-wheeler makers to roll out electric scooter. This could also be perceived that Bajaj might be seeing the new challengers as threat.
The company that plunges into an almost untouchable scooter segment in electric avatar, tells many stories about the two-wheeled Indian giant. Reading, in the same Hamara Kal line inspired by the iconic Hamara Bajaj line, the people of the 90s will easily relate to one of the most popular scooters Bajaj Chetak .
However, this raises another valid question, if Bajaj has amended its earlier stand of not making scooters and focusing only on motorcycles? One gets the first answer when they see the absence of Auto Baja name in their product name 'e-Chetak'.
Bajaj argued: “We continue to have the same position in our two-wheel business and motorcycles will continue to be our main volume business. This (e-Chetak) is part of our strategy to become specialists for niche segments. This is how we have ATVs, three-wheelers, KTM , and now Triumph ... Our president had announced about reducing our approach, which means that we also have to reduce the product portfolio. Therefore, you must be a specialist.
Bajaj intends to resurrect the e-Chetak brand as BMW did with Mini, so the product has released the company logo to show its independence. The e-Chetak will be launched in January 2020, to test the market in two cities, Pune and Bengaluru, and will be sold from its pro-bicycle network, where the lowest price is 1.5 rupee lakh.
Explaining that his goal is not to make money with the new release, but to be prepared for the future, Bajaj said that the company does not mind losing a few million rupees in this company, since the reason behind this product is to transform be prepared for the future
“I have seen the price of the shares of new companies rise because they are burning cash. So, this is our adventure to burn cash and make our share prices rise, ”jokes Bajaj.
As he was sounding critical of the new startups, on being asked what are processes and product quality that keep his product different from the crowd, he replied: “We will not share the details of investment, or how did we manufacture as this is not important for the customers but for the competitors, so we will not do it, ”said Rajiv Bajaj.
Restricting its core value of focusing on what it can do best, Bajaj has no commitment to the charging infrastructure or the battery exchange model. It will only sell the scooters. However, he admitted that the infrastructure problem for electric vehicles can cause chaos similar to what happened during the transition to CNG in Delhi.