Drawing inspiration from the 1980s model, the styling of the battery-powered Bajaj Chetak may not have pleased everyone. That included Pratap Bose, the head of design at Tata Motors, who called the zero emission scooter a ‘missed opportunity’ for its design.
This, however, has not gone down well with Rajiv Bajaj, the managing director of Bajaj Auto. “Pratap Bose should know that he is talking to the World’s Favourite Indian that sells its 40 percent of the production across the world," Bajaj said.
Earlier in 2019, Bajaj Auto moved from its iconic 'Humara Bajaj' identity to 'World’s Favourite Indian'.
"The problems with these things is that a lot of people think about this in engineering terms. The problem with engineers is that they only see the product,” Bajaj said while responding to a question from Moneycontrol.
“The brand comprises of six elements, the product itself, story of the brand and experience. The product is then made of three aspects, design and styling, performance and price. Without understanding this big picture if somebody comments that they have lost the opportunity then good luck to Tata Motors, if he is the representative of the talent they have over there,” added Bajaj.
Bose, responsible for nearly half a dozen designs at Tata Motors like the Tiago, Tigor, Nexon, Harrier and Altroz, likened the design and styling of the Chetak to the Vespa, a brand created by Italian company Piaggio.
On the day of the unveiling of the Chetak on October 16, Bose tweeted, “Very Vespa. Missed opportunity to do something more unique. Wonder what Piaggio will have to say about this”.
Bajaj also attacked the messaging in the advertisements of the Rs 13 lakh SUV Tata Harrier, which play up the fact that it is based on the Land Rover platform.
“They have so much confidence in their design [which is based on] JLR that they tell customers to buy this (product) because it is a poor cousin of the Land Rover,” Bajaj said. “This has also come from Mr. Bose’s design lab.”
Chetak, which was once the best-selling two-wheeler in India, was born out of a technical collaboration of license manufacturing with Italy’s Piaggio.
“Chetak was born around the same time when the relationship between Bajaj and Piaggio came to an end. That was not because the partners wanted that but the government created a situation or policy that led to that. Chetak carried the whole company forward on its shoulders. There was a 10 year waiting on it and it was a matter of pride owning one,” added Bajaj.
It is the product perception that consumers buy and not the product itself, Bajaj further explained. According to him, aChetak has an emotional connect of the past with the buyers. He gave the example of Maruti Suzuki whose compact cars were preferred by buyers over almost all other rivals.
“Do you really believe that small cars from Toyota, Honda, GM, Ford, Renault, Nissan are such poor products that Maruti’s small cars are superior products to them because they sell in high numbers? And if that is the case then why do people prefer buying Toyota, Skoda and Honda the minute they have Rs 7-8 lakh in their pockets? As marketing people we understand that people buy into perceptions not products. If you want a small reliable, fuel-efficient and cheap service it is better to buy a Maruti Suzuki and behind every perception there is a story. The reason Royal Enfield is such a fantastic success is because there is story behind it,” added Bajaj.