Bajaj Auto and Austrian partner KTM are developing high-end electric motorcycles, taking their decade-old partnership beyond internal combustion engines, the Indian auto major’s executive director Rakesh Sharma has said.
This initiative is separate from the work the Pune-based Bajaj Auto, which owns 48 percent equity in KTM, is doing for electric solutions. In the next few months, the maker of Pulsar range of bikes plans to launch a fully electric scooter.
“At this stage I can say that we are entering two-wheelers. We are not ready to say whether it’s a scooter or a motorcycle but we are open to the full spectrum and we are working very closely with our strategic partner KTM to look at electric solution for high-end motorcycle also,” Sharma told Moneycontrol recently.
The move comes at a time when the government is aggressively pushing for electric vehicles to curb pollution and reduce India’s dependence on fossil fuels.
With the exception of start-ups, there aren’t too many companies in the world, or India, betting on high-end electric motorcycles.
In India, it is only the start-ups, backed by a mix of prominent investors and automotive companies, who have shown interest in such vehicles.
Tork Motors (backed by Bharat Forge), Srivaru Motors, Emflux, Menza Motors and Ultraviolette Automotive are among those looking to launch electric motorcycles with a top-speed of more than 100 km per hour. Tork is three years behind on its launch, while Emflux is delayed by five months.
Cruiser bike-specialist Harley-Davidson was one of the first motorcycle-makers in the world to develop an all-electric bike.
The Milwaukee, US-based company is preparing to launch the LiveWire in India too. This bike has a top-speed to 150 kmph and claims a riding range of 235 kms.
Asked why Bajaj was not looking at an electric motorcycle given its push to emerge as a motorcycle brand while staying clear of scooters over the last decade, Sharma said, “We are not going by what we did in the last 10 years. So right now, everything is under consideration–high end and low end.”
At present, KTM has only one electric model— Freeride E-XC—on sale. It was launched in October 2017 in Europe but is not available in India. Priced at 7,500 euro (approximately Rs 6 lakh), the motorcycle is suited for off-roading.
The two partners have already agreed to develop a range of mid-capacity motorcycles for not just KTM, but also for Swedish company Husqvarna. These bikes are partially designed and developed in India and manufactured at a plant in Pune. The KTMs developed at Bajaj’s Chakan plant are exported to the US, Europe and Japan.