A day after Tata Motors Managing Director Karl Slym questioned the need for quadricycles, Pune-based Bajaj Auto, which is pioneering the quadricycle project, said its RE60 wasn't a low-cost car.
Bajaj hasn't promoted the RE60 as a passenger car but as an improvement on the three-wheeler. The company has indicated the slowing demand for Tata's Nano shows consumers aren't looking for low-cost cars. "The cheaper car, Nano, offers nothing but a lower price; the sales data appear to tell us quite clearly how deep that strategy runs with customers," said a Bajaj Auto spokesperson.
Yesterday, Slym had said the proposed formation of a quadricycle segment was a step backward, in terms of traffic safety and environmental concerns.
Bajaj claims 10 years ago, when TVS Motors had proposed the quadricycle project, the aim was different. "In the past, the quadricycle proposal was for a cheaper car. This time, Bajaj's RE60 proposal is for a superior three-wheeler - two diametrically different ideas, but both require the creation of a new category," the spokesperson said.
Chennai-based TVS Motors Chairman and Managing Director Venu Srinivasan claimed it was Bajaj Auto that had resisted the idea of a quadricycle when TVS Motors had proposed it to the government.
Rajiv Bajaj, managing director, Bajaj Auto, has maintained the quadricycle was a three-wheeler with an additional fourth wheel, promoting the idea of safer urban travel compared to traditional three-wheelers. Responding to this, Slym today tweeted, "The number of wheels do not automatically make us better; it is adherence to tried and tested safety and emission norms."
Bajaj Auto, however, says Indian safety norms for off-set frontal crash lag European norms by about 15 years. The company is now ready with a product which, it claims, meets all eligibility criteria for a quadricycle, as it is developed according to European regulations for such products.
The government, which had set up a committee for checking the feasibility of quadricycles in India, gave an in-principle approval for creating this class of four-wheelers.
Other companies such as Piaggio, Mahindra & Mahindra and Eicher have also evinced interest in this project.
The quadricycle does not fall under any of the existing vehicle segments and, therefore, requires the government to form a new set of rules and regulations for this category.