Bajaj Auto has released an update about reopening Chetak electric scooter bookings. The company already has more bookings than it can service, Rakesh Sharma, its Executive Director, had told business-standard.com earlier this month.
Now, speaking to financialexpress.com, Sharma has revealed that Bajaj Auto is planning a “complete localisation” for the Chetak electric scooter, through Indian vendors. The company will reopen Chetak bookings only after it is confident that it has figured out the localisation aspect of the new electric scooter.
Bajaj Chetak deliveries hit by delay in imported parts
A strong supply chain is the first step to keep order books open, expand to new regions and deliver the electric scooter to customers on time.
The debut of the all-new Chetak in January this year marked the most crucial launch in the electric two-wheeler segment. However, things quickly went downhill in a matter of days even before deliveries began in March. The COVID-19 pandemic struck, causing the market to shut down, first the Chinese factory (in Wuhan) that produces some of the Chetak’s important components, and then the factories and dealerships in India.
Critical components of the Chetak electric scooter, like the battery for instance, arrive from Chinese factories. Chinese origin of core parts caused a supply issue and hampered the production plan of Bajaj Auto. Now that the company has decided to step up localization, supply could be normalized, but it remains to be seen how Bajaj localizes parts that are currently unavailable in the Indian ecosystem, chiefly the Lithium-Ion cells.
Sharma made it clear that there’s no plan to launch the Chetak electric scooter in new cities at the moment. The company will reopen bookings in Pune and Bengaluru once it is able to streamline the production with new local parts, but it won’t immediately open bookings in more locations. It will study customer experience in the first locations, the charging infrastructure’s response and the financials prior to expanding the availability, Sharma said.
Bajaj Auto retails the Chetak electric scooter at a price of INR 1,00,000 in an Urbane variant and INR 1,15,000 (ex-showroom prices) in a Premium variant. During the previous interaction, Sharma had revealed that the company is making a loss on every unit it sells. It has shifted its focus to its bread and butter ICE motorcycle business for the time being and will relook at the EV business towards the end of the year.
To recap, the Bajaj Chetak electric scooter has a 48-volt, 60.3 Ah or a 2.89 kWh Lithium-ion battery. Its motor generates 3.8 kW of power and 16 Nm of torque. Both battery and motor are IP67-rated. Charging the battery to 25% level takes 1 hour, and fully charging it is a matter of 5 hours.
Bajaj Auto says that its first electric scooter offers a range of over 85 km in Sport mode and over 95 km in Eco mode. The Urbane variant has drum brakes, while the Premium variant has a combination of a disc brake (front) and a drum brake (rear). There are several other differences between the two variants, which we have covered in detail in the Chetak launch story.