Bajaj is resuming production of the Chetak and will soon reopen bookings. In this story, we talk to Nihar Amrute from Pune who took delivery of his Bajaj Chetak Premium electric scooter recently to get his opinion about the ownership.
Why did you choose Bajaj Chetak over the Honda Activa or other scooters?
The first thing is the brand. Bajaj has been very familiar to us since 1992. I’m having a Bajaj Stride model (1992) and we also had a Boxer. And then I saw the Chetak is back. I had many options including Ather 450, Okinawa Praise, Hero Electric scooter and TVS iQube. I did a comparison and went with Chetak.
When did you book the vehicle and when did you get the delivery?
I booked the vehicle in mid-January. I went to see the vehicle and booked it at the same moment online by paying Rs 2,000. I received delivery of the vehicle this month. I went to the KTM dealership in Pune for the delivery.
You have owned petrol-powered bikes and scooters. How is the difference?
There’s not much difference in the delivery but being an electric scooter, this has a many features. At the time of delivery, they explained how to use the scooter from start to end and how to ride it, the different modes, etc. They allowed us to test the scooter to check if everything’s okay. The app wasn’t getting connected at that time and was facing issues but it got connected after three or four days and is working now.
Initial response of owning an electric scooter for the first time?
This is quite different. For the last ten to fifteen years, we have been driving IC-engine vehicles. You slot in the key, start the scooter by giving a kick or push a button and the engine cranks with a vibration. That is not there in the electric scooter. You just put it in forward mode and there are no vibrations or sound. You feel like you are in the air or something! It is very smooth, no vibrations, the stability is very good and they have given a single fork suspension in the front. Initially I had doubts whether it will be good enough but the suspension is really good. My father owns a TVS Wego and we had a Honda Activa too. So compared to these scooters, the Chetak’s suspension feels more comfortable and the pickup of the scooter is also better. They have a feature that if you open the throttle to more than 70 or 80 per cent in the Economy mode, it automatically switches to the Sport mode. If you want to overtake, the Sport mode is really nice.
What about the acceleration?
Regarding the acceleration, I couldn’t take it to highways to test the scooter because of the COVID-19. In Pune, I guess I had taken it to a max of 50 km/h and I didn’t have to push the scooter to reach that speed. It was easy going from 0 to 50 km/h. The acceleration is quite good in both Economy and Sport modes. And overtaking is also easy.
On the wallbox and charging the scooter:
The charging process was quite smooth. Bajaj has given the contract to a third party, who were very professional. They scheduled a meeting on the date and time that I specified. They inspected where they need to fix the charging box in my society. As my meter box was quite near the parking area, I didn’t have to take extra wire for it. Within an hour or so, the charging box was installed. They explained the charging process, it is quite easy and there is no risk of children opening the box. You can either open the box manually with the key or you can remotely open the lid by pressing a button on the smart key. The charging cable is given at the time of delivery and is placed in the glovebox.
What has been the range of the scooter?
On full charge, the dashboard shows around 85 to 90 km. So I have been running the scooter in the Economy mode only and sometimes it (readout) fluctuates to more than 100 km also. In the dial, it would show 111 km and it keeps on fluctuating. I got the scooter delivered with a full charge and so far, I have charged only once and I have driven around 125 km. There’s still 60 to 70 per cent charge left.
On the Chetak app and its features
The app and the user interface is quite easy to use by both the tech savvy and older generation. The app has a dashboard that shows the current position of the scooter, how much the scooter has charged, how much battery is remaining, what is the remaining distance that the scooter will travel and whether the scooter is in Eco mode or Sport mode. It gives you a diagnostic feature that completes a diagnosis whether you have a fault in the scooter that needs attention. It also shows a graphical representation of the distance travelled on a particular day, your average speed and top speed which helps me understand my own usage.
Features you feel that could be improved?
In the beginning, I felt, looking at other scooters that this should have a detachable battery but I didn’t feel like that after I got the scooter delivered. Fast charging should have been there, where we can charge it to 80 per cent or 90 per cent in an hour. This will be helpful especially during monsoon in Pune, when the electricity suddenly goes out any hour. If I plan to do a long distance trip, say 100 km, a fast-charging feature would come in handy where the scooter is ready for the return journey by the time I finish a break.
OTA (over the air) update is definitely a miss by Bajaj. The protective guard around the scooter’s front is missing which some may prefer. I have seen the accessories on the scooter in the showroom but it is yet to be offered officially.
Service and maintenance
For normal IC-engine scooters, I would go to the service center after 500 km of purchase (or 1 month) for basic checks and after that every two months or so and I would have to carefully observe if every area that needed attention was serviced. For the Chetak, I’m told that the first service is after 12,000 km (with similar service intervals) which makes it a low-maintenance product. After all, there are no oils, spark plugs, clutch plates, chains or filters that need changing!
What is the single biggest difference in the Chetak as compared to using a regular scooter?
I do not need to worry that I have to make it to the petrol station, stand in the queue, and get my scooter refueled, or the price of petrol. I ride past a fuel station with a gut feeling that I may never need one again!