India's major automakers have jumped on to the quadricycle bandwagon after unsuccessfully trying to block Bajaj's Qute from obtaining government approval for as a personal transport vehicle.
Qute RE60 'personal mobility solution' has gotten the marketing approval in the newly created category of quadricycle for personal mobility – between three-and four-wheelers – and is getting ready for a February launch. It's already available for commercial use.
The leading carmakers were dead against its classification in the small car segment amid reports that the quadricycle, which is more fuel-efficient than the small car and safer than the three-wheeler, could cut into their domain.
Tata Motors and Mahindra & Mahindra have launched programmes to develop their own quadricycles. Tata is particularly worried that Qute RE60 could cut into the market of Nano.
According to the classification, a quadricycle is a small four-wheel vehicle with kerb weight under 400kg, powered by a motor generating below 15kW and a top speed of less than 70km per hour. Market observers thought they had potential in the commercial vehicles space for intra-city transport replacing autorickshaws. But the present classification allows them to invade the personal transport space.
Reports have emerged that Mahindra & Mahindra is building a quadricycle codenamed C101 on a new platform with an investment of up to Rs150 crore. It has imported a quadricycle from Europe for benchmarking. A media report says the company plans to initially produce 15,000 units annually from its Zaheerbad plant, which will be later raised around 60,000 units a year.
Tata Motors' Bravo project is far behind Mahindra's quadricycle programme. Its vehicle will be based on the Tata Iris light commercial vehicle platform and will be powered by an all-new petrol motor.
Bajaj's Qute, which is the only quadricycle approved for commercial and personal transport 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, which its chairman Rajiv Bajaj describes as 'very anti-car', plans to make the personal transport version available from February next year.
Qute recently obtained the Automobile Research Authority of India rating. The Bajaj Auto website claims Qute has also got the European WVTA (whole vehicle type approval) certification from the Netherlands vehicle regulatory authority, RDW.