Bajaj small car eyes the world

Bajaj Auto-Renault-Nissan ultra-low cost (ULC) car has already set its sights on Brazil. The news agency reports quoted Mr. Carlos Tavares of Nissan as saying that the ULC, which was still in its infancy, would be smaller than Brazil’s current compact cars. The Bajaj small car is to debut in India by 2011

The report also indicated that this car was modeled on the Tata Nano which hits the roads in July. Bajaj Auto did not comment on the news and indications are that it will unravel the bigger game plan only close to the launch date of the car.

The three partners had already made public that this was “an exclusive global alliance” which meant that the ULC car would not be confined to India alone.

BRIC economies, growth engines

The choice of Brazil, for instance, is a clear reflection of the fact that the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) economies are the growth engines of the future.

Incidentally, companies such as Toyota and Honda, which have planned small cars in India, have Brazil on their radar. Toyota is also believed to be looking at China and Russia for this model, codenamed 800 L and scheduled to make its India entry in late-2010.

The Bajaj ULC car, in association with Renault and Nissan, could also logically look at Thailand (which could be home to a three-cylinder version of the Nano in 2011), Taiwan and Indonesia, which are large two-wheeler markets, and customers would be open to the idea of graduating to a small car.

Motorcycle mindset

It is possibly with this in mind that the managing director of Bajaj Auto, Mr Rajiv Bajaj, has constantly maintained that mileage, and not price, will be top priority for the ULC car. “We are doing things with the motorcycle mindset,” he has stated in the past.

Within the company, sources say that a breakthrough has already been achieved in this direction which means the car could even deliver in the range of 35 km per litre. In previous interactions, Mr Bajaj has also admitted that the three-way alliance could sell twice the number of cars by halving its price but that has never been the intention.

The better way out, according to him, is to find a more creative and profitable solution which lies in doubling mileage instead. The concept ULC car was on display at the 2008 Delhi Auto Expo where Mr Bajaj had once again reiterated the need to create something distinct in performance and design.

And even while his ally, the Chief Executive Officer of Renault and Nissan, Mr Carlos Ghosn, had constantly referred to the US$ 2,500-tag, the Bajaj Auto MD said that this was “a statement of direction and not a declaration of intent,” even while insisting that it would be competitively priced.

At the time of its display at the Expo, the ULC car was planned with twin-cylinder petrol and diesel engines. Mr. Bajaj had said then that the choice of transmission would be made once the project began to evolve though the objective was a “unique transmission” that would strike the balance between a manual and gearless option.

Source: Hindu Business Line