Exclusive Bajaj Chetak electric plant planned; Bajaj in talks with Delhi

Bajaj Auto’s Chetak may have faced supply issues this year, but things are looking bright for 2021 and beyond now. Soon after several positive developments about supply improvement and availability expansion came into the picture, a massive Chetak update has emerged.

Rajiv Bajaj, MD, Bajaj Auto, has told cnbctv18.com that a dedicated Chetak electric scooter manufacturing plant is in the planning stage. The company is already looking at potential sites and will hold a discussion with at least one government for the same soon.

We are looking to kind of establish the first plant of Chetak, and we are looking at three potential sites – Delhi, Bangalore and possibly somewhere around Hyderabad.

Rajiv Bajaj, MD, Bajaj Auto

Video Source: youtube.com/Chetak Official

Bajaj suggested that while Delhi isn’t the most ideal location for the electric Chetak plant, the local government’s aggressive pro-EV measures and views about EVs, in general, make it a very attractive option now. He talked about how quick the decision on the production site could come and why manufacturing in Delhi makes sense now.

It depends a little bit on how quickly we make a choice. So, to tell you very briefly, Delhi is a contra-intuitive choice really because it’s furthest from where we are located in Pune. Also, the North is not the biggest market for this kind of products. So, in that sense, Delhi is a contra-intuitive choice. But I am personally extremely encouraged by the very positive, and not just positive, but very realistic attitude of the Aam Adam Party government in Delhi towards electric vehicles. I am very encouraged by their policies, and I am hoping to have a discussion with very soon on this matter. In fact, we’ve been engaging with them on this matter. So, this is what attracts me to Delhi, the attitude of the local government.

Rajiv Bajaj, MD, Bajaj Auto

While Delhi could emerge as a big EV market in the coming years, Bangalore is already a major EV market and could grow further. Naturally, it is among the top locations under consideration for the Chetak electric plant. Telangana’s aggressive pro-EV policies make Hyderabad also a potential production site.

In terms of Bangalore, I guess it’s obvious, the South is the biggest market for such vehicles and also the infrastructure of Bangalore, you know one doesn’t need to say anything about it when it comes to tech stuff and EV, etc. As far as Hyderabad is concerned, I am given to believe that perhaps the most attractive investments to support such a large EV project may actually be forthcoming from Hyderabad.

Rajiv Bajaj, MD, Bajaj Auto

Bajaj Auto may come to a decision about the dedicated Chetak electric plant’s location and other aspects by the first half of 2021. If the plan moves without interruptions, the new manufacturing site could be ready and start rolling out the Chetak by 2022. The KTM scooter and the Husqvarna scooter expected to ride on the Chetak’s platform could also be manufactured at the facility.

In the next couple of months, we need to choose a site, and then the plant is a matter of a few months after that. Until then, you know whatever we need to produce we can keep producing at our Chakan facility.

Rajiv Bajaj, MD, Bajaj Auto

Within a year, the Chetak electric scooter availability should go national. The new plant could mean production in volumes large enough to not only satisfy demand across the country but also to have the potential to export. Currently, the Chetak’s availability is limited to Pune and Bangalore.