Iconic ‘Hamara Bajaj’ is back with e-scooter Chetak

Deccan Chronicle.  | Michael Gonsalves

Business, Autos

Chetak was the brand that made it India’s biggest two-wheeler company with a waiting period of nearly 10 years in the 1960s and 1970s.

(L to R) Nitin Gadkari, Minister of Road Transport and Highways, Rajiv Bajaj, MD, Bajaj Auto and Amitabh Kant, CEO, Niti Ayog unveil the all new Bajaj Chetak Electric Vehicle

PUNE: After nearly two decades, ‘Hamara Bajaj’ is back in the new avatar of electric scooter Chetak. Launched in the 1960s, Bajaj Chetak scooter had become a household name with its popular campaign ‘Hamara Bajaj’.

Chetak was the brand that made it India’s biggest two-wheeler company with a waiting period of nearly 10 years in the 1960s and 1970s with resale value greater than its purchase price.

Bajaj Auto, India’s second largest motorcycles maker, has become the first mainstream Indian motorcycle brand to enter the electric space and simultaneously return to the scooter segment with unveiling of its Bajaj Chetak electric scooter on Wednesday. Hero Motocorp and TVS Motor Company are in different stages of developing and launching such electric two-wheelers.

The all brand new Bajaj Chetak electric scooter will be commercially rolled out in January 2020 in Pune and then to Bangalore when the price will be revealed.

After gauging the response, it would move into other cities. But the company indicated that it would not be more than Rs 1.5 lakh.

The company also plans to export the new Chetak to relevant European markets from next year itself.

“It is born and bred to go beyond the objective of earning some valuable foreign exchange exporting our cost competitiveness towards a higher purpose of acquiring a fine reputation for our skills in the most ferociously competitive international arenas,” the company said in a statement.

“When we do something it's better to come first and there is virtually no point coming second or third. It's very important to be first to market,” Rajiv Bajaj, Managing Director at Bajaj Auto told media at the launch in New Delhi.

“Scooters and step-through are a very important segment and we have not made the electric Chetak to be in the volume space. We are trying to build meaningful niches with three wheelers, super bikes and electric scooters,” he said.

The Pune-headquartered two-and-three-wheeler major Bajaj stopped manufacturing scooters in mid-2000s to focus on motorcycles and be bike specialist in the world.

The new Chetak will be available in two variants, offering a range of 85 km and 95 km per charge.

The Chetak is powered by a lithium-ion battery with NCA cells, while exact battery specifications have not been revealed so far. The battery is charged using a standard household 5-15 amp electrical outlet which will come at a nominal cost, the company said.

The Chetak offers two drive modes (eco and sport) and a reverse assist mode. There is also a regenerative braking system that converts braking heat into kinetic energy thereby maximizing the range.

Designed on the lines of the original Chetak, the popular geared scooter of the 1960s and 70s, the battery-powered scooter has been designed and developed in-house by Bajaj Auto.

The electric Chetak is manufactured at the Chakan plant of Bajaj near Pune which is where it produces the KTM, Pulsar and Avenger range of motorcycles. The electric Chetak went into production in September.

The company believes there is immense potential for growth in the electric scooters and electric three-wheelers in the country.