Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Bajaj-Renault Nissan talks for quadricycle project on track

World's largest three-wheeler maker Bajaj Auto said on Friday that its talks with Renault-Nissan for a fourwheeler quadricycle project is on track as it comes closer to launching its RE60 - the first quadricycle for India -- with the government giving its in-principle nod to this new category.

The quadricycle, which is a step-up from a traditional autorickshaw but significantly cheaper than a car because of its weight, power and speed, has caught the imagination of auto makers like Mahindra & Mahindra, Piaggio and Eicher who are keen to use it as a passenger vehicle. Rajiv Bajaj, CEO & MD of Bajaj Auto, said, "We have been in touch with them (Renault-Nissan) for the last four-five years and have provided whatever information they wanted. At no point did they say 'no' to the project. We have never looked beyond Renault-Nissan."

"Partnership was not about their technology. It was our technology and we would have tapped into their marketing network in Europe," clarified Bajaj. Apart from creating an all-new segment for India, Bajaj is also eyeing Europe, the US and other developed markets where the quadricycle is quite popular as a recreational buggy, and this is where the alliance with Renault-Nissan would come in handy.

 But for starters, the company is looking at SAARC countries, Africa and Latin America as its immediate overseas markets. Bajaj, however, asserted that he would like to see the policy fineprint before finalising the product and taking a call on exports. Touted as a safer, cleaner and comfortable alternative to a three-wheeler, Bajaj Auto said on Friday that it will begin production of the vehicle this fiscal at its Aurangabad plant. The company has set up a capacity of 60,000 units per annum, which can be scaled up later.

Bajaj Auto has spent three and half years developing the RE60, which conforms to European quadricycle standards. It has also designed the platform in such a way that a van-like vehicle could also be built on this platform with various fuel options like diesel, CNG, including electric powertrain, for the developed markets in future.

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