Urbanite, Bajaj Auto’s new electric vehicle brand, will be available in showrooms in the first half of next fiscal (H1 FY20), thus marking the Pune-based company’s electric vehicle foray.
The maker of Pulsar and Avenger range of bikes had signalled last month that its entry into the electric vehicle space will perhaps be through a scooter, a two-wheeler model that Bajaj Auto has staunchly stayed clear of for several years.
Commenting on the impending launch, Rakesh Sharma, Director, Bajaj Auto said, “The Urbanite will hopefully start to make an appearance in 6-9 months. We will present it in a small way and then sort of build it up.”
At the launch of a new brand campaign for the company in January, Managing Director Rajiv Bajaj had promised that the launch of an electric scooter will happen soon.
The scooter, however, will not be the end of the story for the country’s third largest two-wheeler maker in the electric vehicle space. Company officials said the debut product and its response will spur more battery-powered products going forward.
“With the Urbanite we are really trying to look at innovative and very futuristic intra-city mobility solutions. We’re starting with two-wheelers because that’s the natural way of thinking for us. But I would not rule out other formats,” Sharma added.
Bajaj Auto is simultaneously working on a fully electric version of its passenger three-wheeler (known as auto rickshaws) as well as Qute: its battery-powered quadricycle.
While Mumbai-based Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) has become the first company to launch a lithium-ion battery powered 3W under the brand Treo, Bajaj Auto is confident of at least showcasing an electric three-wheeler in FY20.
As for Qute, an electric version will be launched in the coming years. For now, the four-wheeler with a petrol engine has seen a limited launch in markets such as Kerala.
Company officials said that by February-end or start of March several more states will allow sales of the vehicle, which is part of an entirely new class of vehicle segmentation.
The current dealership network of Bajaj Auto is not suitable to cater to its electric vehicles and therefore a new network from scratch will be explored for this.
At present, the company operates two different kinds of dealership networks. At one end, it has dealerships that sell only Bajaj branded products while at the other end it has KTM, maker of high-end bikes with its own exclusive stores.
“We will look at a separate network for this (electric vehicles) because that needs to be presented very differently to a very different target group,” Sharma added.