After a prolonged lull Bajaj Auto will make a renewed push for the Qute quadricycle by the end of this fiscal year to tap the budget shared-mobility segment.
Established as a smart taxi within the space of a three-wheeler and a car, the Qute claims to offer car-like comfort and the travel cost of a three-wheeler. Bajaj’s Qute will be challenged by Mahindra & Mahindra’s own quadricycle called Atom which could be launched next year.
Qute is India’s first quadricycle, a new vehicle category created by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. The four-wheeled, four-seater vehicle is allowed to be registered as a vehicle used for commercial purposes (taxi) only.
Bajaj Auto introduced the Qute only in select markets including Kerala, Gujarat and Maharashtra before the onset of Bharat Stage VI at the start of Q1FY20. The Pune-based company joined hands with app-based ride sharing aggregator Uber to cater to the Bengaluru market.
Rakesh Sharma, executive director, Bajaj Auto said, “Ride share aggregators are a good platform to take the Qute proposition to the masses. In the limited period we had before BS-VI, we collaborated successfully with Uber for a pilot in Bengaluru and used feedback from 1 lakh customers. Post relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions and readiness of the product in October-November this partnership will be picked up again in Bengaluru and rolled out in other metros like Hyderabad. We expect sales of the Qute to commence in Q4 of this fiscal.”
Following the pandemic-induced lockdown in FY21 and subsequent uncertainty of demand for the ride-sharing concept, Bajaj Auto stopped wholesale sales of the Qute in India. For similar reasons, during the same time, passenger three-wheelers and buses also took a knock. But with the faster rate of inoculation and the government’s target of vaccinating all citizens by December, shared mobility is expected to come back on stream.
“The introduction of Qute in India has been a long, arduous journey as it had to navigate the process of creating a new set of regulations at the Centre, followed by each state level. The Qute also has to conform to BS-VI standards. These were defined slightly later but this work will be completed for all variants of Qute by the end of Q3FY22. After which we should pick up the development effort for creation of this new category,” Sharma added.
In addition to the Chetak, Bajaj Auto is working on electrifying the Qute as well. This is in line with its plans of launching electric three-wheelers which was originally scheduled for the second half of this year. M&M will launch the Atom in an electric form and will be the cheapest electric four-wheeler from the company.