Nearly four years ago, Bajaj Auto unveiled the RE60 under its commercial name Qute.
The vehicle was immediately branded by some as 'Nano-killer'. Nano being world's cheapest car launched by Tata Motors a few years before. However, there was one tiny problem. There were no policy or guidelines in India for such a vehicle.
Now, almost five years hence, the Government of India has finally given its nod to quadricycles. Bajaj Auto currently has a production capacity of 25,000 of these vehicles which are catering to the export market.
The company now feels that it will be able to sell this quadricycle in India in the next six months.
The reason for the four-year delay was simple. Quadricycle was failing to meet the regulatory norms of a car, and because it is a four wheeler, norms for rickshaws didn’t apply to this vehicle.
In 2016, car safety body Global NCAP pulled up the company for Qute's one-star safety rating.
The body is an independent charity focused on consumer-orientated vehicle safety initiatives. It said, although a one-star Bajaj Qute does not perform well and there is a "likelihood of severe or fatal head and chest injuries", DNA reported in 2016.
The RE60 was a culmination of a four-year project to introduce an ultra-low-cost four-wheel vehicle for Bajaj Auto, FirstPost reported in 2014.
Although, Rajiv Bajaj, managing director, Bajaj Auto declined to position this vehicle against Tata Nano, he had said, "This vehicle was born out of the costs and skills of a two-wheeler market."
The project began in 2007 and was indeed set out to create a Nano rival in collaboration with partner Renault Nissan.
However, the concept was dropped because "it did not make sense." The better option was to go in for a "four-wheeler", said Bajaj, adding that the RE60 was eventually completely developed in-house, FirstPost report further said.
The vehicle weighs barely 400 kilograms and is fitted with a 200-cc rear engine with petrol and CNG/LPG fuel options.
Rakesh Sharma, President, International Business, speaking exclusively to CNBC-TV18 said, "We are quite delighted that the Union Ministry of Roads and Transport has cleared it."
He said, "All the safety and emission norms have been cleared. The vehicle meets all the specifications as put out by the Indian standards. It's also meeting euro-IV standards and it has been cleared in something like 26 countries internationally for commercial and in some cases personal application."
The details of the draft policy will be made public in the coming days but it’s been a battle Bajaj has been fighting for long.
Other carmakers had initially opposed this vehicle class but few have come around since then. SUV-maker Mahindra & Mahindra has also showcased its own quadricycle as one of its future products.
"The capacity for this vehicle is flexed along with our three wheeler capacities. We are quite a large manufacturer for three wheelers, both for domestic and international consumption, but given that flex, if I make some kind of assumption, we can easily do 5,000 units per month of Qute straight on," he added.