Bajaj Auto is looking at a leadership position with regard to exports of e-two wheelers from India much the same way it has done for petrol motorcycles. India’s largest exporter of motorcycles sells its models in over 70 countries.

Over the next couple of years, Chetak Technology, its wholly-owned subsidiary, will be building a portfolio of electric two-wheelers. Rakesh Sharma, executive director, Bajaj Auto, has been spearheading Bajaj Auto into the overseas markets. He is now busy charting a similar growth trajectory for Chetak Technology.

“When we are deciding on a new product, it’s like which all markets we can sell. It’s always a global play. It will be the same for EVs (electric vehicles),” said Sharma. There are enquiries for the model from Kenya, Mexico, Argentina, Asean nations, Nepal and Bangladesh, among others, he said.

Chetak is looking to create a portfolio of e-two wheeler models by addressing various needs and catering to a vivid customer profile, Sharma said in an interaction.

The Chetak plant will also be a key export hub for KTM and Husqvarna scooters as well as motorcycles in the next two years. On Friday, the company inaugurated its newly-built EV manufacturing plant at Pune’s Akurdi on the birth anniversary of the late Rahul Bajaj.

This inauguration is a homecoming in many ways because Akurdi is where the iconic Chetak scooter was born in the 1970s. It went on to redefine mobility for generations in India.

“We have always joked that Chetak was his favourite son; I would like to assume that he is very happy, the way his birthday is celebrated,” said Rajiv Bajaj, managing director, Bajaj Auto, after inaugurating its only EV factory.

Set up with an investment of Rs 300 crore, the plant will get the benefit of the government’s production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme.

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Bajaj Auto will invest over Rs 2,000 crore over the next 2-3 years, said Sharma. The plant has the capacity to crank out 800 e-scooters every day (250,000 per annum). It can be further expanded to double its electric two-wheeler output.

Chetak — in its new electric avatar — hit the roads in October 2019. But supply chain issues have slowed its ride and the company has managed to sell only over 14,000 units so far with over 16,000 bookings in the pipeline.

Even though meeting the domestic demand remains a top priority for the firm, it wouldn’t wait for the scenario when the backlog gets fully addressed to embark on exports, said Sharma.

He added that the semiconductor shortage is here to stay and he doesn’t see the situation getting fully resolved for another two years. In order to improve supplies, Bajaj was relying on a few large suppliers. But now, it is sourced from multiple suppliers. This should help the firm in ramping up at a faster pace.

Sharma said Chetak Technology is looking at multiple collaborations, including taking an equity stake in a start-up or an established firm to further its EV ambitions. It is not in a hurry though and will partner with only those firms that bring “enough value to the table.”

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