The EV sector has seen a massive boom in recent times but its also been under massive scrutiny over the past six months. With fire incidents related to electric vehicles and batteries, there were more than enough fingers being raised about what kind of standards are manufacturers following. The government also stepped in to acknowledge that a lapse indeed happened on its part when it came to giving EV start-ups a free hand to make and sell products. The same has also caught the attention of Rajiv Bajaj – Managing Director, Bajaj Auto, who called this “mad EV gold rush” concerning.
Bajaj was speaking at the inauguration of his company’s new manufacturing plant for electric vehicles (EVs) at Akurdi, Maharashtra. Speaking on the sidelines of the event, Bajaj said, “What concerns me more is the environment that has promoted this mad gold rush. Why is this happening in the EV world? Quite clearly, it was a mystery why people who have no business to be in the EV business continue to do so even while it is more than evident that due processes are not being followed.”
Taking a dig at companies who import electric vehicles from China, Bajaj said, “You can bring in any junk from anywhere [on our roads]. Where have we gone wrong? The people concerned have to reflect on this. [Bajaj Auto] “We have a certain way of doing things. We believe we have a robust process that we follow which ensures that what we produce is high quality, reliable and durable.”
This is not the first time Rajiv Bajaj took a dig at EV start-ups. Last year at the Bajaj Pulsar 250 launch, the MD’s BETS vs OATS jibe made headlines with the head honcho calling out the cash burn business model that a number of EV companies have been adopting.
Speaking further at the inauguration event, Bajaj said, “When a flower doesn’t bloom, you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower.” He added that he was aware players who did not have an R&D centre as such and no “real purchase function in the engineering sense.” He raised concerns about “stuff” being imported into the market that “had not been really validated”
“That is perhaps why you are seeing these incidents of mishaps, fires and accidents,” he added. Making a pertinent point, he said there are only two types of EVs in the market, “those that have caught fire and those that are going to.”
He also acknowledged that fire incidents have been a part of ICE two-wheelers too. However, Bajaj insisted, “The issue is not the fire but the underlying process of the manufacturer by which he does what he is supposed to do. If he has a problem, he needs to resolve it.”
The statements also come at a time when Bajaj Auto plans to go big in the EV space. The company’s new EV line is called Chetak Technology and has seen an investment of Rs. 3,000 in the first phase of operations. Interestingly, the new plant is located at the same location where the original Bajaj Chetak scooter assembly line once stood. While the company produced 128 Chetaks per day on six conveyors, the new facility is capable of producing 800 vehicles per day from a single assembly line.