Bajaj Auto is seeking a leadership position when it comes to exports of electric two-wheelers from India much like it did for gasoline motorcycles. India’s largest motorcycle exporter sells its models to over 70 countries.
Over the next two years, Chetak Technology, its wholly owned subsidiary, will build a portfolio of electric two-wheelers. Rakesh Sharma, executive director of Bajaj Auto, led Bajaj Auto in overseas markets. He is now committed to charting a similar growth trajectory for Chetak Technology.
“When we are deciding on a new product, it is like in all markets that we can sell. It is always a global game. It will be the same for electric vehicles (electric vehicles), “Sharma said. There are requests for the model from Kenya, Mexico, Argentina, Asean nations, Nepal and Bangladesh, among others, he said.
Chetak is looking to create a portfolio of e-two-wheeler models by addressing various needs and satisfying a vivid customer profile, Sharma said in an interaction.
The Chetak plant will also be a major export hub for KTM and Husqvarna scooters and motorcycles over the next two years. On Friday, the company inaugurated its newly built electric vehicle manufacturing plant in Pune’s Akurdi on the anniversary of the late Rahul Bajaj’s birth.
This inauguration is in many ways a homecoming because Akurdi is the place where the iconic Chetak scooter was born in the 1970s. He has continued to redefine mobility for generations in India.
“We always joked that Chetak was her favorite son; I would like to assume that he is very happy with the way his birthday is being celebrated, “said Rajiv Bajaj, managing director of Bajaj Auto, after inaugurating his he only electric vehicle factory.
Established with an investment of Rs 300 crore, the facility will benefit from the government’s production-related incentives (PLI) scheme.
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Bajaj Auto will invest over Rs 2,000 crore over the next 2-3 years, Sharma said. The plant has the capacity to turn out 800 e-scooters every day (250,000 per year). It can be further expanded to double its power on two electric wheels.
Chetak, in his new electric avatar, hit the streets in October 2019. But supply chain problems have slowed its run and the company has only managed to sell over 14,000 units so far with over 16,000 bookings in the pipeline.
While meeting domestic demand remains a top priority for the company, it would not wait for the scenario where the backlog will be fully addressed to undertake exports, Sharma said.
He added that the semiconductor shortage is here to stay and does not see the situation completely resolved for another two years. To improve supplies, Bajaj relied on some large suppliers. But now it comes from multiple suppliers. This should help the company grow at a faster pace.
Sharma said Chetak Technology is looking into multiple collaborations, including acquiring a stake in a start-up or established company to further its electric vehicle ambitions. However, he is in no hurry and will only partner with those companies that bring “enough value to the table”.
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