Bajaj Auto, the country’s third-largest two-wheeler maker, on Wednesday re-entered the scooter market with the launch of its classic scooter, the Chetak, but with a twist: an electric variant of the scooter.
The new Chetak e-scooter was launched under the Urbanite EV sub-brand by Bajaj Auto. Once the face of affordable mobility in India, the scooter is expected to be priced under Rs 1.10 lakh.
The retro-looking e-scooter comes with all-LED lighting system, a digital instrument cluster and Bluetooth connectivity and is expected to be launched in January.
Millennials still remember the timeless “Humara Bajaj” ads that ran on TV screens all-day long two decades ago. “The Chetak is a legend that symbolises individual freedom and empowers human ambition. The new Chetak is once again poised to lead the electric vehicle adoption and transformation in India and across the world for a better ‘Hamara Kal’,” the company said in a statement.
Riding on this nostalgia factor and its global appeal, the Pune-based two-wheeler maker is looking to make a mark in the electric two-wheeler segment.
“I am confident that this product will get lots of success in both domestic and international markets. India can't miss this bus. Electric is inevitable. We had said that we’ll move forward with or without people who comply. I had said that people who do not comply will be dragged into it,” road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari said at the launch. “Come what may, we’ve decided it... that India needs to be pollution-free, and we’ll do it. When one learns to swim, he needs to be pushed to the deep end,” the minister said.
“In the context of electric vehicles, customers say, ’Where is the charging infrastructure, is it viable, is it practical?’” Bajaj Auto managing director Rajiv Bajaj said talking about the future. In this context, he shared a quote of Alibaba founder Jack Ma: “Don’t wait for the environment to be ready. Don’t wait for the policy to be ready. Because when everything is ready, there is no opportunity for you. If you’re not the first or the second to market, you lose the market forever.”
NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant, who was also present at the launch, said the future will be a shared, electric, and connected world. “Whether we like it or not, this disruption will take place. We will move away from 20,000 parts of combustion engine to 2,000 parts [engine], ” he said, adding: “We lost out on the solar cells. We lost out on mobile manufacturing, we lost out on telecom. And in all these areas we’ve become a major importing nation. China has taken on that."
“India is in the midst of the biggest disruption in the world. India must be the global champions for two-wheelers and three-wheelers in the world,” he added.
The scooter is powered by a high-tech lithium-ion battery with NCA cells, which can be easily charged using a standard household 5-15 amp electrical outlet. It offers two drive modes—sport and eco—giving ranges of 85 km and 95 km, respectively, on a single charge of five hours.
The electric Chetak competes with Okinawa, Hero Electric, Ather and Avan Motor.