A desire to own a sleek, expensive and near petrol-like electric machine is something not restricted to the car market alone. Home-grown two-wheeler giant Bajaj Auto seems to be extremely keen on launching an electric-powered motorcycle before the turn of the decade.

Speaking exclusively to Moneycontrol, Rajiv Bajaj, Managing Director, Bajaj Auto said that his company is ready to do ‘something remarkable’ in the electric vehicle space before 2020.

Pune-based Bajaj Auto, which is India’s most valued two- and three-wheeler company, built its fortunes on petrol and diesel-powered scooters, motorcycles and commercial and passenger three-wheelers. It also test-marketed CNG-powered bikes in the recent past but since the market was underdeveloped the company withdrew it subsequently.

“In the near future and by near future what I mean is definitely before 2020 we will do something remarkable in this area (electric vehicles). It is very important to look at this very holistically,” said Bajaj.

But that does not mean Bajaj intends to launch an electric bike under its own brand. The company is exploring ways to enter this space through a new identity which could be independent of Bajaj. This is done in order to maintain the sanctity of the new brand and its perception.

“Consumers are not really getting excited about getting an existing vehicle and shoving a battery into it. That looks like patchwork to people. The perception created about Tesla, first and foremost, is that here is a company that is visionary enough to place its bets on electric vehicles and create electric vehicles that are bought not only because they are green but they are sexy as well,” said Bajaj.

Bajaj is steadily moving up the value chain after having just launched the Dominar 400, its most expensive bike priced at Rs 1.4 lakh. A high-powered electric-motor powering a stylish and sleek motorcycle whose performance is no less than a petrol-engined bike is most likely the vision of the company in the coming 2-3 years. But the company is keen to get the brand right before getting the product right

“Electric vehicles (EV) can be sleek, high performance, extremely aspirational. Tesla has the same image of a German (petrol/diesel powered) car. So it is very important to create the right desire to own or purchase an EV. That means it starts right from the brand. Tesla is a brand which is purely electric. Now if tomorrow Tesla launches a diesel or petrol car with an electric motor it would make no sense. Tesla can turn around and ask that when Toyota does it what’s the problem? The problem here lies in the perception. Tesla stands for something,” added Bajaj.

“So is it that in the Bajaj brand if I make a product with a battery in it it will succeed? I am not very comfortable with that. So the solution is not the battery. The solution always starts with the brand, because that’s what drives perception. Once you get that right then you think about the product – design, performance and price,” added Bajaj.

“Therefore, it needs a very big solution but we are working on it in a very practical way. The minute there is a new set of people and new brand, the perception changes. This is very important otherwise for existing legacy organization like ours the perception is very fuzzy. That does not help because even if you make a nice vehicle it is just a product and there is no story behind the product. It has to have its own identity,” added Bajaj.

(Source: Money Control)
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