Bajaj Auto delays its e-auto launch once again
The auto major believes that e-autos require stringent specifications and therefore wants to make sure all the buttons are at the right place before making a formal launch. This is so that they don’t run into any teething troubles like some rival companies are facing. The company had earlier petitioned the apex court arguing that the scheme by Delhi govt is arbitrary as it does not include CNG run autos.
Bajaj Auto, the market leader in the three-wheeler passenger segment overall with a market share of over 72 percent, has chosen to launch its electric avatar more cautiously than originally planned. This is after receiving a less-than-enthusiastic reception in Delhi, where only 400 to 500 e-autos could get registered as opposed to around 4,500 permits the government had intended to issue.
During the Q2FY23 post-result conference call, Rakesh Sharma, executive director of Bajaj Auto, stated that the market has fully rejected the present generation of electric autos, as evidenced by the outcomes of the issuing of permits in the capital city of Delhi. He continued by stating that the e-auto is a commercial concept with strict specifications. “We want to come up with products which are near perfect,” said Sharma, before adding that it is important to get auto drivers' feedback so that adjustments can be made before the product is released for sale.
The Delhi Transport Department initiated a programme in October 2021 to distribute e-auto licences, with roughly 33 percent of those going to women. The Government has received more than 20,000 applications for the same. Along with a 5 percent interest subsidy for financing the vehicle, registration charges, and tax exemptions, the government also provided an incentive of Rs 30,000 each vehicle.
However, problems arose almost immediately, as Bajaj Auto filed a petition with the Supreme Court, claiming that it was unfair and arbitrary of the government to grant new registrations to only e-autos and exclude e-CNG. However, the court agreed with the government's argument that the plan cannot be characterised as arbitrary because it complies with FAME-II and the 2020 Electric Vehicle Policy. In addition, it was noted that CNG-autos couldn't be compared to e-autos because, although complying with BSVI, CNG vehicles still weren't as ecologically safe as e-autos. Additionally, around 92,000 CNG auto-rickshaws have been registered.
Reports suggest, currently, both the technology and the businesses are new to the market, and the products they are producing may be exposed to actual customers for the first time. It is hard to create a sophisticated product like an auto that is perfect for the customers the first time around, and as anticipated, the customers encountered several problems. After receiving numerous customer complaints over an incredibly low range, Pure EV recently made a number of modifications to their policies, software, and hardware. Consequently, buying a vehicle from the company's first manufacturing run is a questionable choice and might even be a terrible experience for the e-auto operator. Lack of adequate financing, supply side issues, shortage of charging facilities and maintenance issues are some of the reasons for the scheme's lukewarm responses.
The development comes, even as the Pune-headquartered auto major had earlier postponed the launch during the pandemic, when the vehicle sales took a nosedive. Later, with the pandemic behind it, the company had indicated that it would launch in Q1FY23, before abandoning the plans once again after taking into account a flop show in Delhi. Bajaj Auto has been developing a line-up of e-three wheelers which includes small passenger and large passenger segments in addition to cargos.
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