Over the last few days, speculation has been pretty agog over Bajaj Auto’s Qute quadricycle’s impending launch in the domestic market by the end of this year. However, if sources are to be believed, the Pune-based company is chalking out plans to dispatch the aforesaid four-seater to some of the thriving ride-hailing service providers in the country like Ola, Uber, Meru, etc., by early next year. Latest media reports also suggest that after clearing several regulatory hurdles, Bajaj Qute might be allowed to ply on Indian roads. The Qute is priced at around US$ 2,000 (about Rs 1.30 lakh) in overseas markets and is 100% localized.
According to a source aware of the development, “Rajiv Bajaj (MD, Bajaj Auto) is taking rapid strides to sell the Qute quadricycle in the domestic market. Although he has surmounted many obstacles, there are some issues which are still plaguing its (Qute’s) launch in the domestic market. Besides the normal distribution route, his company has held some discussions with cab aggregators. And once it is allowed to sell in the local market, some batch of vehicles might be delivered to these taxi or fleet operators.
Quadricycles, positioned as four-wheeler micro-cars, are defined by limitations in terms of weight, power and speed and are ubiquitous in Europe. Sensing a massive disruption in the domestic market, its launch in India is held up due to multiple PILs filed across states by auto rickshaw union leaders, drivers and even lawyers.
Initially called the RE60, the Qute is the first quadricycle by any automaker in India. It sports a 216.6cc DTS-i single-cylinder water-cooled fuel injected engine which develops 13.2 PS of power at 5,500 rpm and runs on both petrol and CNG. Weighing less than 450kg, it is 37% lighter than the smallest car in the market. It has 44 litres of space in the rear, 95 litres in the centre and 60 litres in front. The quadricycle has a maximum speed of 70kmph and can deliver a 35km/l mileage. Its carbon emission at 66g/km is also lower compared to other cars in the market.
Ramesh Chandra Maheshwari, President (Commercial Vehicle Business), Bajaj Auto, when contacted by BW Businessworld maintained, “A solution for each specific mobility need is likely to be the way forward. We need a vehicle which is lightweight, have low speeds, environment friendly, and highly fuel efficient. Bajaj Qute has been designed taking into consideration the issues involved in intra-city transportation. As far as this vehicle’s supply is concerned, we have had discussions with most taxi fleet owners as well as aggregators like Meru, Ola, Uber, etc. However, it is premature to conclude on any commercials in the absence of permission to run on Indian Roads.”
The official spokespersons of Uber India and Ola, however, declined to comment on this development.
“It’s an excellent move by Bajaj Auto as players like Uber/Ola have been quite focused on A& B segment cars in India unlike global markets where generally fleet is of big and premium cars . This is perfect strategy to push Qute in fleet/Taxi segment. This product can be a value option and parallely fulfill the needs of transportation and give more margin to drivers. Qute may not find buyers in car segment as customer expectation is very high and there is fierce competition in A-segment from products like Renault Kwid and Suzuki Alto,” said Puneet Gupta, Associate Director at IHS Markit, a market research firm.
Billed as the ideal alternative to three-wheelers because of safety and other factors, the vehicle was first unveiled in September 2015 and got a rousing reception across continents such as Europe, Asia, Latin America and Africa. The company claims that apart from complying with the safety standards, the Bajaj Qute also meets Euro III/IV emission standards and Indian Quadricycle emission standards. The company is also working on its electric variant going forward.