New Delhi: Bajaj Auto, India's second largest bike maker, finally unveiled its first four-wheeler, a low-emission car - RE 60 on the eve of the 2012 Auto Expo in New Delhi.The company, which had in 2008 showcased a concept small car but decided not to go ahead with the project.
High fuel efficiency and lower emissions are the key factors on which the company is banking on to make its foray into the car segment a success. The company expects a big growth opportunity by targeting the three wheeler segment.
The RE 60, according to Bajaj has high fuel-efficiency ratios. Bajaj claims that this vehicle has hit 40kmpl under test conditions and a realistic mileage in daily driving conditions should be above 35kmpl. The 200cc rear-mounted engine's emissions will be an incredible 60g of CO2 per km.
Slated to be launched this year, its engine is a new water-cooled DTSi 4 (Digital Twin Spark Ignition) and able to accelerate to a maximum speed of 70km per hour. The small car can accommodate four people.
Though Bajaj has not yet revealed the prices for the RE 60, it is believed to be a ultra-low cost car and will compete with the Tata Nano, currently the cheapest car in the world.
Bajaj has been working with Nissan Motor Co and Renault SA on a project to develop an ultra low-cost mini car. The Bajaj RE60 will be manufactured in Aurangabad.
As per an agreement with the Renault-Nissan alliance, BAL was supposed to develop and manufacture the vehicle and sold under the badge of the alliance.
The ultra low-cost car was first scheduled to hit the roads in India in 2011, but was delayed due to differences between the partners on pricing and design.
While Renault-Nissan wanted to price the car at around $2,500, Bajaj insisted on lowering the overall cost of ownership.
In 2010, Renault-Nissan announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding with Bajaj Auto to take forward their ULC car project. As per the MoU, design, engineering, manufacturing and supply base expertise for the ULC would be executed by Bajaj with the support of the alliance, while branding, marketing and selling will be by Renault-Nissan.
"They have not seen the product yet. They have seen only on virtual media. They will see it in Auto-Expo. If they are disinterested in the four wheeler they are free to walk away," Rajiv Bajaj, managing director, Bajaj Auto, said.
"Last century was scooters, this century was motorcycle. We have made a remarkable transition from a scooter to a motorcycle company. We've gone from selling cheapest scooters in the country to some of the most expensive motorcycles. For the last 8-9 quarters, Bajaj Auto has been the world's most profitable auto company. There has been valid criticism that Bajaj has not done justice to its 3 wheeler business even though we are largest in world. We have been urged to do something dramatic for the 3 wheeler business, as dramatic as the transformation from Chetak to Pulsar. These are a host of features that are not normal for this segment just like when we launched Pulsar. It's a testimony to our engineering," Bajaj added.