Bajaj Auto Ltd (BAL), India’s first quadricycle manufacturer, is gearing up to begin exporting its RE60 soon, two sources close to the development told Autocar Professional. While it is known that the company has set up a monthly production capacity of 5,000 units of the RE60 at its Waluj, Aurangabad plant, it is believed to have already rolled out around 2,000-2,500 units of these vehicles, which currently occupy the massive stockyard within the Waluj factory premises.
“There is a stock of around 2,000-2,500 units of the RE60s parked inside the Waluj plant. The RE60s with both driving formats (right-hand and left-hand drive, hinting at the export-specific models) are near-ready and are in their final stages of testing and validation before they are shipped out,” a BAL official said, requesting anonymity.
He, however, did not reveal the specific month when the company would begin exports but said “the dispatches for export will start soon.” Given the depreciating nature of vehicles, industry experts too hint at the exports of quadricycles beginning before the India launch, which is approved from October 1 by the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways (MoRTH).
BAL says the RE60 is a lightweight four-wheeler based on a robust monocoque, metal-polymer hybrid structure, which is powered by a water-cooled, single-cylinder, four-stroke engine with a near-200cc displacement. “The RE60 powertrains are now based on triple-spark design. We have a separate engine and vehicle assembly line at the Waluj plant. Also, there are some advanced blueprints based on similar concepts, which are under various stages of development at Bajaj Auto,” added another source closely associated with the project.
Meanwhile, in the context of the India launch of quadricycles, a top-level SIAM executive said, “There is nothing pending from the government now and, as far as I can recall, all approvals are in line for the India launch of the new category of quadricycles, which is October 1 onwards.”
“While speculations regarding exports of the RE60 have been floating around, the picture seems to be clear now. The company does not require permission from local authorities to export these four-wheelers. The interesting perspective is that Bajaj Auto, which had to wait for over two years to see the RE60 ply on Indian roads as a potential replacement of three-wheeler autorickshaws, is the largest manufacturer of three-wheeler passenger carriers. As of now, Tata Motors seems to be the closest to Bajaj Auto to bring its own model in this space, cutting down the first-mover advantage for the latter,” highlighted an industry expert, who wants to remain unnamed. Piaggio Vehicles too is understood to be interested in the quadricycle segment.
An analyst from Prabhudas Lilladher, a leading stockbroking firm, told Autocar Professional that “Our interaction with Bajaj Auto’s management revealed that they plan to launch the RE60 in India in the third quarter (October-December 2014) of the ongoing financial year.”
It is understood that the approved quadricycle models (across Bajaj Auto, Tata Motors, Mahindra & Mahindra and others) would have to ply on roads on separate permits (from regional transport offices of various state governments), on the lines of the commercially used vehicles such as three-wheeler passenger carriers, taxis and last-mile cargo movers.
According to the specifications in the public domain, the upper weight limit of these quadricycles is restricted to 450kg and 550kg, for passenger and goods carriers respectively. The passenger version (with maximum length of 3 metres) can carry four passengers while the last-mile goods carrier (with maximum length of 3.7 metres) can ply with not more than 500kg of cargo. BAL claims that with kerb weight in the range of 400kg-450kg, the RE60 delivers fuel efficiency of nearly 35km per litre, emits less than 60 grams of carbon dioxide every kilometer, and does not exceed a maximum speed of 70kph.
BAL spokespersons remained unavailable for their comments for this story.