Bajaj Auto's quadricycle Qute that has obtained regulatory approval as a personal transport vehicle could give the small car a run for their money with its better fuel efficiency.
Though the Indian automaker fought for a special classification of quadricycle for Qute despite strong opposition from other carmakers, the company's main target will be the small car segment.
The 'personal mobility solution' as Bajaj likes to describe Qute, is pitched as more fuel-efficient at 35km per litre (and the compressed natural gas version 48km per kg) as against about 25kmpl for the most fuel-efficient car.
The company's chairman Rajiv Bajaj describes it as 'very anti-car' and Bajaj plans to make the vehicle available from February next year.
India's first quadricycle has obtained the Automobile Research Authority of India rating as a quadricycle. The Bajaj Auto website claims that Qute has also got the European WVTA (whole vehicle type approval) certification from the Netherlands vehicle regulatory authority, RDW.
Qute had earlier obtained the approval for use as a commercial vehicle, but its marketing as a personal mobility solution has made Indian carmakers wary. Though it's priced at Rs.2.6 lakh (ex Delhi), just Rs.7,000 more than Maruti Suzuki's Alto 800 (ex-Delhi), its makers think the better fuel efficiency should make it a preferred urban transport option. As a quadricycle, its mandated speed is 70km per hour.
It's true that the separate classification as a quadricycle protects the new vehicle from the liability of meeting the same regulatory norms as the passenger car.
Maruti Suzuki Chairman RC Bhargava said that if any vehicle wants to compete in the same segment as the small car, it should also meet the same emission norms, according to Business Standard. "We have no problem of a four-wheel drive not looking like a passenger car. But the key question we had raised is that they should follow the same emission and safety norms which we as carmakers follow. The question is considering that even two-wheelers have to move to BS VI emission norms by 2020, how can quadricycles have a different emission standard?" Bhargava said.
The vehicle between the motorcycle and the car offers the best of both worlds, according to its makers. Qute's relative safety of four wheels and cabin and comparable mileage makes it attractive to two- and three-wheel users, its better mileage and manoeuvrability on congested city roads and parking areas could interest small car users.
"The Qute is an affordable urban mobility solution on four wheels. Its closed body, seat belts and associated features offer a safe and more convenient alternative to the two-wheeler at an operating cost that is similar," Rajiv Bajaj, managing director of Bajaj Auto, told media persons. "We are an anti-car company in that the purpose of our strategy is to provide people, particularly those in our polluted and congested cities, smarter alternatives to cars, whether two-, three- or four-wheelers."
- Class: Quadricycle
- Engine type: Single cylinder liquid cooled, four-stroke engine with twin spark ignition
- Capacity: 216.6 cc
- Max Engine Output: [8.08 kW (CNG) & 9.70 kW (Petrol)] @ 5500 RPM (at crankshaft)
- Max Torque: [16.1 Nm (CNG) & 18.9 Nm (Petrol)] @ 4000 RPM (at crankshaft)
- Gears type: Dash mounted sequential gear shift
- Gear rating: 5 forward and 1 reverse
- Length: 2752mm
- Width: 1312mm
- Height: 1652mm
- Wheelbase: 1925mm
- Wheel track: 1143mm
- Turning radius: 3.5m
- Weight: 471kg
- Max speed: 70km per litre
- Seating capacity: D + 3 with foldable rear seats for extra boot space
Source: Bajaj Auto website