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Bajaj says no to car; can make for Renault on LCV platform


Bajaj today said it will not enter the overcrowded car market on its own but kept its options open to manufacturing small cars for foreign companies like Renault and Nissan.

"I don't think Bajaj will go in for a car," Bajaj Auto Chairman Rahul Bajaj told reporters, casting doubts over the much-hyped and ambitious plans of the group to produce an ultra-low cost car in partnership with Renault and Nissan.

We have no desire for car. There are 14 companies making cars, 25-30 cars (models), from Nano to Mercedes and BMW. Unless you make 200,000 cars a year you can never make profit with this kind of competition," he said on the sidelines of a Ficci Ladies Organisation function.

He said the company plans to launch a four-wheeler goods light commercial vehicle (LCV) by 2012 and "subject to government regulations, on the same platform we may develop a passenger carrier" but not a car.

Asked about the status of BAL's ultra low cost car (ULC) project with the Renault-Nissan alliance, he evaded a direct reply but said the company could develop a small car on the same LCV platform if the Franco-Japanese auto alliance wanted.

"If Renault and Nissan, on the platform we do for our goods carrier vehicle, want us to make a car for them, subject to terms and conditions, that can be done but that is in 2012. Things may change from time to time," Bajaj said.

BAL is currently involved in a three-way partnership with Renault Nissan for an ULC. The Pune-based firm will design, develop and manufacture the product while sales and distribution will be done by Renault and Nissan.

Last November Renault Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn announced that the alliance had finalised an ultra low cost product for launching it in the market by 2012 with a claim that it would the cheapest in India in terms of running costs.

However, in March at the Geneva Motor Show, Nissan Motor Co Executive Vice-President Collin Dodge said that neither of its partners had found engineering solutions for their proposed ULC car for the Indian market.

"It is over two years that Bajaj is trying to produce the car. The physics of it is very difficult. We have not yet found a solution as there are lot of engineering solutions required," Dodge had said.

The car was originally scheduled to be launched in India in 2011, but was delayed due to differences between the partners in terms of pricing and design. Earlier, Renault had wanted to price the car at around $2,500 but BAL wanted to focus on more fuel efficient car.