By Ruma Dubey
Five years after its launch in 2012 at the Delhi Expo, Bajaj’s R60 or Qute as it is branded, has finally got the green signal from the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. It has agreed to give it the category of “quadricycle.”
This was a big bone of contention. Bajaj had designed the vehicle as a quadricycle which is like an autorickshaw but with four wheels. It is powered by a 217cc single-cylinder engine. Because it is not a car, Bajaj has designed it without most of the standard safety equipments. In fact Qute failed all the mandated safety checks, including frontal and side impact crash tests in India. The company was unfazed as it was not designed as a car so where was the question of it passing any car tests?
Though it has been given the category of ‘quadricycle’ it has not yet got any approvals for plying on the roads; that nod is still awaited and hopefully, Qute might be seen on the roads before end of FY18.
What is truly frustrating is that we have an Indian bred innovation, which is already being exported to Europe, Africa, South America and Asia. Yet, within our own country, instead of working in tandem with the company to ensure the Qute gets onto the road at the earliest, the Govt is dragging its feet. We have given out the slogan of “Make in India” but is this how it will be for Indians who want to make in India? Whatever happened to the ease of doing business for Indians?
The company in 2015 became the first Indian company to have got a European Whole Vehicle Type Approval (EU WVTA) or EU certification for its quadricycle, The certification makes the vehicle eligible for export to Europe and many other countries which recognise the EU WVTA standard without the need for any further tests. We in India should really hang our heads in shame as the “cycle” was to be launched in India two years ago, but like the way we treat all good things in India, it is mired in public interest litigations. Apart from govt approvals, I is also facing a series of litigations in Delhi, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Gujarat, with petitions being filed by autorickshaw drivers and unions, who fear that their livelihood could get affected with the launch of this vehicle.
Seriously, will the Qute replace autorickshaws? Maybe, for short-distance, intercity travel during the initial stages. Gradually, as people’s curiosity will end and practicality will set in, the quadricycle, which cannot be driven on highways, might become a ‘touristy’ thing. Autos are today too wide spread as a means of transport and Qute can never match the price of an auto. Thus auto’s will continue to rule and Qute will be just another new mode of public transport.
Will the launch of Qute mean we have to re-rate Bajaj Auto? Maybe in terms of perception but in terms of financials, it is not expected to make a huge material impact any time soon.
Yet, this quadricycle is the much required breath of fresh air for Bajaj Auto. And kudos to Bajaj for bringing in a new classification of vehicles!