Bajaj keen to expand Chetak availability after observing initial customers

Bajaj Auto will study the customer reaction and experience in Pune and Bengaluru for Chetak before launching it in other cities, as stated by Rakesh Sharma, Director – Bajaj Auto, in a conversation with Autocar India. Here are excerpts about the discussion on the Bajaj electric scooter.

Why Chetak?

Rakesh Sharma: Bajaj has been in the business for very long and we have products where we can just change the powertrain to electric to offer the customers. But style and design were very important components for this proposition right from the beginning with Chetak.

What kind of support from government is Bajaj Auto expecting?

Rakesh Sharma: Performance of Chetak or any EV is dependent on the charging infrastructure, which is challenging in today’s high rise apartments where there’s no dedicated parking facility for two-wheelers. The range anxiety of customers is also a challenge and despite Chetak’s healthy range of 95 km, customers still hesitate about getting stranded on roads. This anxiety can be mitigated only with a charging ecosystem.

A major cost of an electric vehicle is the battery. The government should facilitate this at the macro level and attract global players to get the latest technology. This will surely bring down the battery cost and we will surely attract many players with India being the world’s largest two-wheeler market.

Why Pune and Bengaluru?

Rakesh Sharma: The KTM network, through which we sell Chetak, already has a dealership network in over 315 cities and 470 showrooms. We can get Chetak to all these dealers in two weeks time but the performance will be limited because of the lacking ecosystem.

If there is no proper charging network and we launch the scooter there, it will not just hurt Chetak but the EV category as a whole. Initially, we want to take it slow and do an intense observation of the market before expanding.

Pune, being our home ground, already has our R&D centre and manufacturing facility. And we selected Bengaluru because, from an automotive point of view, there is already a decent amount of early adopters there for the technology.

We are very keen to expand our footprint as fast as the environment will allow us, we already have the network. We are already getting calls from our dealers asking for Chetak. So, we will observe the feedback from Pune and Bengaluru before launching in other cities.

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