Bajaj Qute, the low-cost taxi loosely labelled as India's quadricycle, will hit the roads in a couple of months as almost all states have approved sale of the vehicle, a top Bajaj Auto official said on January 21.
This development is a shot in the arm for the Pune-based motorcycle and three-wheeler manufacturer as the company had been pushing for Qute's launch for the past six years.
Rakesh Sharma, executive director, Bajaj Auto said: "At the policy level, the Qute has got all clearances. We are in the last mile of bureaucracy where the state transport comes into the picture, for instance, what will be the registration fees, etc. So it is really the tail of the elephant that is left. Almost all the states have approved it and rest of the documents should be laid to rest by March. So Qute should be seen on the roads from March onwards."
An electric version of the Qute will be made ready in the next couple of years alongside the launch of an electric three wheeler, confirmed Rajiv Bajaj, Managing Director, Bajaj Auto, on the sidelines of unveiling a new brand campaign 'World's favourite Indian'.
The Qute is essentially a low-cost version of the modern-day taxi whose pricing would be between that of a three-wheeler and the cheapest passenger car. The government gave the permission for the creation of a new segment following Bajaj's aggressive and sustained push.
A few months ago, Bajaj Auto dealers in Kerala and the North East had already placed orders for the four-wheeler as it considered those markets where it was 'technically' possible to offer the Qute for sale.
Last year, the central government cleared the policy to permit quadricycles for commercial use after the Supreme Court asked Centre to look into the issue.
Several public interest litigations (PILs) were filed by various entities to stall the commercial launch of the quadricycle. The Qute could potentially replace the three-wheeler (commonly known as autorickshaw) where the market leader is Bajaj Auto.
Unable to sell the vehicle in India, Bajaj began exporting the Qute to Latin America, Europe and Africa in 2015. The vehicle is powered by a five-speed, 216cc engine that develops a peak power of 13.2 PS and has a maximum speed of 70 kmph. It can seat three passengers and a driver.
Bajaj has created a capacity of 60,000 units per year for the Qute at its manufacturing facility in Aurangabad. According to senior Bajaj officials the production capacities for three-wheelers can be used to produce the Qute as well.
Several companies including TVS Motor Company
and Tata Motors
had opposed the government's proposal to allow quadricycles to be sold in the market on the grounds that the vehicle does not meet crash safety norms.