The Auto Expo is yet to officially begin, but Bajaj has already fired a significant salvo. They have just unveiled the RE60, their small, eco friendly vehicle.
The RE60 certainly looks striking, as small cars go. The front fender looks a little overdone, but when painted in the same colour as the body, it blends in better. At first glance, it is compact, but the interior is surprisingly roomy, much like the Tata Nano.
The car is fuel injected and uses twin spark ignition, and it is water cooled. The company claims a real world fuel mileage of 35 kpl, with a carbon emission of 60 grams per kilometre, which also reflects in the name RE'60'. The body weighs 400 kg and the car is powered by a 4-stroke engine. There is also a fuel injected CNG variant available. No electric options will be available.
The compact RE60 has a turning radius of 3.5 metres. On the inside are moulded seats, 400 litre boot space, digital instruments. And to keep the windscreen clean is a single windscreen wiper.
The RE60 will be available in two versions - commercial and deluxe. The RE60 comes powered by a 200 cc petrol engine that is rear mounted. The engine is a four valve, fuel injected, liquid cooled affair with an all new transmission linked to it. The car can make 20 bhp and will also be available in LPG and CNG variants. Bajaj has no diesel variant planned for the car as the diesel engine will be too heavy.
The car will be ready for production in a few months time, and will be manufactured in Aurangabad at the three-wheeler plant whose capacity will be expanded.
Pricing details are yet to be revealed.
HERE'S WHAT RAJIV BAJAJ HAD TO SAY AT THE LAUNCH>>
Rajiv Bajaj said that the company wanted to start the new year with a bang, following on from the success of the last two years. Beginning with the Chetak, the cheapest scooter in the country, the company has moved on to making some of the most expensive motorcyles sold in India, and it is now the most profitable automotive company in the world.
With this being the background, it is perhaps surprising that Bajaj has opted to go the four-wheeled way - Rajiv Bajaj explained thiz by quoting Jack Trout, who said 'leaders should do more, it is only right'. The task Bajaj presented itself with was to make best use of the resources already available to them, rather than to try and reinvent the wheel. The company emphasised that no government subsidies were needed in the making of the RE60.
It is not electric, as it was at pains to emphasise, because the energy involved in producing an electric vehicle tends to offset the zero emissions at the tailpipe. In fact, Bajaj's whole presentation at the unveiling centred heavily around the ill effects of pollution, citing mortality rates related to air pollution and figures showing the extent to which internal combustion engines contribute to the degradation of the environment.
The production process is also green, claims Rajiv Bajaj, and the company has saved almost Rs 350 crore by utilising the existing facilities. The platform has been totally developed by the company from scratch. He also revealed that Renault and Nissan have not seen the final product, only a virtual picture, and if they do decide to wash their hands off the idea, it is fine with Bajaj. However, only after the Expo will there be a clearer picture of any alliance or agreements.
Bajaj is an anti car company, Rajiv Bajaj went on to say, in the same way that 7up is an anti-Cola company. This is why they are insist on calling themselves a four wheeler company, and the RE60 a four wheeler, as opposed to a low cost car, as it was first discussed with Renault/Nissan.
The RE name has become synonymous with their three wheelers, hence the continuation of the brand name. The objective was to keep things simple and centred with this four-wheeler, they said, and the aim is for it to become an affordable, viable alternative to available personal transportation. It is not intended to replace the three wheeler, and there is no commercial, goods carrying, use intended, although it will be used as a taxi. It is fully ready to be qualified as a quadricycle in Europe.