Rajiv Bajaj is known for expressing his thoughts and doesn’t seem to care if his words can lead to controversies
On the occasion of new Pulsar 250cc launch, Rajiv Bajaj took the opportunity to target EV startups like Ola, Ather, Tork and Smart E (OATS). His primary accusation was that these startups are cash burn businesses whereas established players like Bajaj are cash flow businesses.
He said that he would bet on BET, which stands for Bajaj, Enfield and TVS. Rajiv’s punchline was “Champions eat OATS for breakfast”. Here, OATS meant Ola Electric, Ather Energy, Tork Motors and SmartE – an obvious challenge to new EV startups.
Ather Electric Scooter OATS
While Bajaj’s primary target was Ola Electric, it’s Ather that has responded first. In a witty comeback, Ather has posted a tweet that talks about launching a new line of products – ‘OATs for champions’.
It comes with the promise of giving a quicker and smarter start to the day. The punchline ‘Recommended by experts’ takes a dig at Rahul Bajaj. The packet mentions – ‘for when you need that instant pick-up’, which refers to superior acceleration offered by electric two-wheelers.
Apart from his sarcastic remarks, Rajiv Bajaj targeted Ola for not delivering even a single piece till date. He said that making customers wait for deliveries is the way of the startups. In comparison, he said that established players like Bajaj thrive on a cash flow model. Talking about Bajaj strengths, Rajiv said the company is 75 years old and has overcome numerous challenges in its journey.
He said champions like Bajaj, Enfield and TVS have always adapted to evolving market dynamics. They have successfully adapted on various fronts, be it cost, competition or new regulations. And they have capabilities to adapt again in the emerging EV ecosystem. He said that EV startups should not take established players lightly.
EVs and ICE – the great divide
Even though EV sales are still pretty low, EV companies are emerging as potential disruptors of the future. Rising fuel prices have worked in the favour of EV startups. Attractive subsidies offered by central and state governments have made EVs more accessible to the masses. However, there’s a lot to be done in terms of building battery charging and battery swapping infrastructure.
Rajiv Bajaj directly targeting companies like Ola may have a valid reason. It’s because EV manufacturers have accused traditional players for not doing enough to promote EV usage. Ola Electric founder Bhavish Aggarwal had said that established players continue to produce fossil fuel vehicles in great numbers. It is statements like these that may have prompted Rajiv Bajaj to push back.
While the shift to EV ecosystem is inevitable, established players cannot do it overnight. They have millions invested in facilities that produce ICE-based two wheelers. It’s practically impossible for these companies to have the same ambitious EV goals as that of electric startups. On the other hand, companies like Ola can afford to go full steam in EV space. They don’t have to deal with the baggage of making the shift.
Moral of the story is that friction between EV startups and established players will continue till a complete shift to electric is achieved. Hopefully, the fireworks will be limited to sarcastic remarks and not move into the realm of lawsuits and defamation cases.