“If we launch a motorcycle in October, you will get it in November. It is not that we will launch in 2021, you have to wait till 2022”, said Bajaj; a jibe that seems aimed at Ola Electric
Startups follow a ‘cash-burn model’ instead of the ‘cash flow’ model followed by the legacy players, he said
Bajaj Auto Managing Director said he would bet on BET: Bajaj, (Royal) Enfield and TVS
Speaking at the launch of the new Bajaj Pulsar in Pune yesterday, Rajiv Bajaj threw jibes at the new crop of electric two-wheeler startups, including Ola Electric and Ather Energy. The managing director of Bajaj Auto made the comments when replying to questions from ET Now’s deputy editor.
As competition between legacy automakers and startups EV manufacturers heat up, Bajaj made it clear that the new kids on the block won’t have it easy. He warned startups not to take the legacy players lightly, speaking of Bajaj’s 75-year history and success in global markets.
“Unlike the Indian four-wheeler manufacturers, Indian two-wheeler companies have battled the four Japanese very successfully,” began Bajaj, referring to the big four Japanese motorcycle manufacturers: Honda, Suzuki, Kawasaki and Yamaha.
“Who are you going to bet on?” Bajaj implored the audience, asking them whether they would bet on the legacy players or the startups. “I would bet on BET. BET means Bajaj, (Royal Enfield) and TVS” quipped the 56-year-old entrepreneur.
Bajaj’s clever acronyms didn’t end there, “Champions eat oats for breakfast. Do you know OATS? OATS matlab Ola, Ather, Torq, SmartE,” he continued.
Bajaj’s comments weren’t off by a lot: Hero Motocorp is the largest two-wheeler OEM in the country, followed by Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India, commanding 46.98% and 19.07% of the market, respectively.
TVS, Bajaj and Royal Enfield occupy the third, fourth and fifth positions with 14.04%, 11.09% and 3.64% market share, respectively. But according to a study by Mckinsey, demand for electric two-wheelers is expected to reach up to 9.2 Mn in India by 2030, and no manufacturer can afford to ignore that demand.
Hero Electric is the largest electric two-wheeler manufacturer in the country, commanding 36% of the market share. Newcomers Okinawa and Ampere come in at second and third with 17% and 14% of the market share respectively, leaving TVS at fourth position with a measly 2% market share.
“If we launch a motorcycle in October, you will get it in November. It is not that we will launch in 2021, you have to wait till 2022”, said Bajaj; a jibe that seems aimed at Ola Electric.
He further explained his statement by speaking about how startups follow a ‘cash-burn model’ instead of the ‘cash flow’ model followed by the legacy players. In August last year, Bajaj had launched an electric bike ‘Chetak’ named after a legendary line of scooters that had made the brand a household name. The company sold 3,300 units of the same.
Though Bajaj’s confidence about Indian industry giants may be reassuring for many, it is oddly reminiscent of Kishore Biyani’s skepticism of ecommerce players. Famous last words.