In the period of April-September 2019, Bajaj Auto exported 934,581 units maintaining its position as the export market leader. But when KTM AG, Bajaj’s Austrian partner, wanted to take the Chetak electric scooter to Europe, Bajaj is believed to have turned down the offer to concentrate on the Indian market instead of growing its export business, as per Autocar Professional.
Eric Vas, Head of the Urbanite Division at Bajaj Auto, has said that KTM AG showed interest in launching the Chetak in March 2020 but Bajaj wanted to supply first in India. Besides wanting to take Chetak to Europe, KTM AG also wants to develop its own electric scooter, on the Chetak’s platform, to be sold in India with a premium price. Bajaj is already working on this model, which will be a performance-oriented version of Chetak.
KTM’s interest in Chetak is logical as Europe is one of the fastest-growing markets for electric vehicles, especially two-wheelers. With a compounded growth rate of 26.6 per cent, the European electric scooter and motorcycle market is expected to reach Rs. 6,406 crore ($892.4 million) by 2025.
India has proved to be one of the best markets for KTM as the total sales of 50,705 units surpassed the USA volumes in FY2019. The Austrian brand posted a 9.46 per cent growth over 46,321 units in FY2018 and 33 per cent over 34,970 units in FY2017. Bajaj has invested 198.1 million euros in KTM through its subsidiary, Bajaj Auto International Holdings and owns 47.99 per cent in KTM AG. Bajaj Auto is now managing KTM and Husqvarna’s markets in India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and a part of South-East Asia.
In India, the EV market, on the whole, is still in its nascent stage. In 2019, an average of 10,000 units of electric two-wheelers was sold in India per month with most of the sales coming from models that have a motor less than 250 watts and speed less than 25 km/h with high-speed vehicles averaging less than 2,000 units per month. According to Mr Vas, Bajaj believes that when there’s a good product, the market will expand.
The Bajaj Chetak is driven by a 4 kW motor and gets a range of 85 km in Sport mode and 95 km in Eco mode. Chetak’s Lithium-Ion battery does not support fast charging or is swappable, and can be charged to 100% in five hours and to 25% in an hour. Bajaj’s decision to not offer fast charging support stems from the fact that fast charging depletes a battery’s life up by to 25%. Bajaj Chetak is slated to be launched in the last week of the month and the price is expected to be around Rs.1.1 lakh ex-showroom. Expect Bajaj to begin exports of the Chetak to Europe after its gets its first round of improvements from customer feedback.