An electric vehicle plan is rapidly becoming essential for all automobile builders, given the rapidly evolving stands taken by global manufacturers and the threat of ‘bulldozing’ the industry by the Minister of Road Transport and Highways of India, Nitin Gadkari . In a current interview with Livemint, Bajaj Auto MD, Rajiv Bajaj, has unveiled that the corporation is working on a new niche brand within the company named Urbanite. As Bajaj puts it, Urbanite will aim to, ‘do a Tesla in the two-wheeler space.’ What we can take from Rajiv Bajaj’s statements is that Urbanite will be very dissimilar from the flood of low cost, electric 2-wheelers incoming our market. This is a good thing as most EVs today have dangerously low performance for use on our chaotic streets and often feel as cheap as their prices suggest. Instead, we see Urbanite acting as a more premium competing to the likes of the upcoming S-340 smart electric scooter from Bengaluru-based start-up, Ather Energy, and also upcoming the T6X electric motorcycle from Pune-based Tork Motorcycles.
Bajaj is not the first Indian company to show interest in the EV space. Hero Electric has been around for over 10 years now, and has a strong network of 300 sales and service centers. We also recently captured images of an electric scooter from TVS under test and late last year, Hero MotoCorp announced Rs.205 crore investment into Ather Energy. However, Bajaj Auto is the first mainstream Indian 2-wheeler manufacturer to proclaim an enthusiastic subdivision within the company solely for the purpose of EVs. So what could we expect from Urbanite in 2020? According to the Livemint article, Urbanite will focus on premium two-wheelers and even three-wheelers. We do wonder where a premium electric three-wheeler will fit in India, but as for a 2-wheeler, the options are numerous; a logical possibility could be around a premium motorcycle along the lines of the Tork T6X. Another possibility is an electric scooter to take on the likes of the Ather S340. This is less likely though, as Bajaj has avoided the scooter business for many years; but maybe an electric drivetrain might change that. Time will tell.