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Hamara Bajaj may be back in two years
KOLKATA, FEB 12 (AGENCIES):
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Published on 13 Feb. 2011 12:12 AM IST
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The iconic ‘Hamara Bajaj’ scooter that shaped the personal travel segment in the 1970s when oil crisis drove cars off roads in favour of low-cost and fuel-efficient two-wheelers, may be back in a new avatar in two years.
According to Times, Bajaj Auto chairman Rahul Bajaj, who adored the famous Vespa scooters made by Piaggio of Italy and in 1960, at the age of 22, became the Indian licensee for the make, believes it is time for the company to re-enter the segment that it exited a couple of years ago. Back then, the scooter market had hit its lowest ebb and Rahul’s son Rajiv, who had taken over reigns of Bajaj Auto, believed the company needed to concentrate on motorcycles and autorickshaws to regain market share.
Of course, unlike the geared scooters Chetak, Super and Classic that Bajaj made earlier, the new range will be gearless. Speaking to TOI, Rahul Bajaj said Bajaj Auto should make a scooter in two years or so as the segment had revived and now boasted of sales of 2 million units in 2010. “It makes sense to make scooters now. The company can develop a model in two years that sells 20,000-30,000 units a month and captures 20% market share. Of course, Rajiv has to take a final call as he is the boss now,” Bajaj said.
Though he had reported of having differences with son Rajiv when the latter insisted on exiting the scooter business with which Bajaj had a strong emotional connect, the senior Bajaj insisted that Rajiv had never said the company would never make scooters again. “In 2009, when Rajiv decided to stop manufacturing scooters, the company was selling around 200 units a month of the 100-cc gearless Kristal. Bajaj was not doing too well in the motorcycle segment either. Since then, Rajiv has turned the motorcycle business around. He has done an outstanding job,” Bajaj said.
On whether the four years lost in the scooter business would affect the development of a new scooter, Bajaj said the company knew the business inside out. “True, companies like Honda, TVS, Suzuki, Mahindra have become established players but it will not be difficult for Bajaj to re-enter the segment and become a significant player,” Bajaj said. He further said the company would regain market share in light goods carrier business with the introduction of a 1 tonne four wheeler in mid-2012. “Over the last few years, we have faced competition in the three-wheeler business and lost market share. The new vehicle will chart the revival in this segment,” he said.
However, Bajaj made it clear that it did not make sense for the company to enter the passenger car market at this moment. “This year, we are going to sell 4 million two wheeler-three wheelers together. So why should we focus only to sell 20,000 units of a car. It doesn’t make sense. Unless we can sell about 200,000 units per year, it will not be feasible,” he said, adding that the company would be the original equipment supplier of the ultra-low cost car for Renault-Nissan that is expected to debut in India in the third quarter of 2012.

 
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