Certain Bajaj Chetak components are directly sourced from Wuhan, the epicentre of COVID-19
As the world continues its battle against COVID-19 with various hits and misses, industries such as automobiles remain in a struggle to minimise losses. In India, automotive facilities (plants, dealerships and service touchpoints) in green and orange zones have resumed operations with adherence to recommended safety and social-distancing protocols.
Meanwhile, the Chinese automotive industry is recovering from the pandemic at a good pace thanks to a stronger supplier network, internal resources and government assistance. One could say that Indian automakers have not received adequate support from the government in these challenging times. In the field of automobiles (and mostly just that), India can learn a lot from China.
The effects of COVID-19 started reflecting on the industry right from December 2019 as several OEMs in India rely on Chinese supply chains. Prior to the lockdown, there were production slowdowns and increased waiting periods. Bajaj Auto’s first mass-production e-scooter, Chetak employs components that are directly sourced from Wuhan, the epicentre of the COVID-19 a.k.a. Coronavirus.
Considering the present state of affairs, Bajaj Auto has slowed down its plans to expand the Chetak market. In fact, the company has temporarily stopped accepting bookings in its only two markets: Pune and Bangalore. The e-scooter comes at a starting price of Rs 1 lakh ex-showroom and is a direct rival to TVS’s iQube.
Even though the “silent assembly line” at Bajaj Auto’s Chakan manufacturing facility has been operational since local authorities relaxed the lockdown, fresher Chetak units are yet to leave the factory. However, the company stays committed to fulfilling pending orders and expects to restart expansion strategies in about six months.
The 2020MY Bajaj Chetak is available in two formats: Urbane and Premium. Coupled to a 3kWh lithium-ion battery pack, the permanent-magnet synchronous motor (PMSM) is rated at 4.8kW (6.44bhp) and 16Nm. It is positioned beside the rear wheel (not a hub-motor unit) and is a direct drive. On a full charge, range figures cross 95km and it takes about five hours to fill up the battery from empty using a regular wall-charger (no fast-charger). To a good extent, the Bajaj Chetak makes more sense in the city compared to a regular petrol-CVT example like Honda’s Activa — see how they compare.
India is still at an infant stage when it comes to EVs. Still, the electric two-wheeler market is witnessing considerable activity with Ather Energy products as the benchmark and e-scooters from Bajaj Auto, TVS Motor Company and Hero Electric as a good start.