Bajaj today announced an investment of Rs 300 Cr (USD 40 Mn) and commenced work at a brand-new unit at Akurdi for manufacturing Electric Vehicles. This unit will have a production capacity of 500,000 EVs per annum. Akurdi (Pune) is also the site of the original Chetak scooter factory that made Bajaj Auto a household name in India.
Speaking about the new unit, Mr Rajiv Bajaj – Managing Director, Bajaj Auto Ltd. said, “In 2001 Bajaj 2.0 took off on the roaring Pulsar, in 2021 Bajaj 3.0 arrives on the charming Chetak. Going forward, for the Bajaj portfolio, except for implementing one state-of-the-art ICE platform that is currently under development, all our R&D drive train resources are now laser focused on creating EV solutions for the future. This alignment reflects our belief that light Electric Vehicles for sustainable urban mobility is an idea whose time may finally have come. Thus, this investment at Akurdi completes the virtuous cycle of hi-tech R&D competencies, high-efficiency engineering capabilities, world class supply chain synergies, and global distribution network which should leapfrog us into a market leading position in EVs in India and overseas.”
The new unit will have cutting-edge robotic and automated manufacturing systems for everything including logistics and material handling, fabrication and painting, assembly and quality assurance. These systems have been designed for flexible product mix, while keeping in mind the best worker ergonomics and maximum process efficiency. It is spread over half a million sq. feet and will employ ~800 personnel. The investments made by Bajaj Auto will be supplemented by a number of vendors, who will invest a further Rs 250 Cr (USD 33 Mn). The first vehicle from this unit is expected to roll out by June 2022.
This new EV manufacturing unit at Akurdi is co-located with Bajaj Auto’s state-of-the-art R&D centre to foster greater collaboration, leading to faster time-to-market. It should transform Bajaj Auto’s Akurdi facility into a hub for design, development and manufacturing of a complete range of Electric Vehicles.
The last product that was rolled out from the Akurdi was way back in 2007 and after that, the sprawling facility was converted into the Bajaj’s research and development center. In addition, Akurdi is Bajaj’s corporate center and the company’s entire sales and purchase operations is also run from this location.
The electric three-wheeler project of the Bajan is already running late and is expected to make its market debut next year. Bajaj has set a separate wholly-owned subsidiary to focus on the EVs and is also willing to offload its stake to a suitable partner for collaborative exploration of EVs. The name of the subsidiary is yet to be announced as the company is in process of taking the necessary regulatory approvals for the same.
The idea of setting the separate business arm for EVs stems from the fact that the electric market in India is now growing at a very rapid pace. Many new startups and companies have cropped up in the sector with the likes of Ola electric, Ampere Vehicles, and Ather Electric becoming prominent names among customers.
In addition, established organizations such as Hero MotoCorp, Hero Electric, and TVS have also started capitalizing on emerging opportunities in the EV field. Bajaj, too, wants its share in the pie and hence, it is chalking out its EV strategy with utmost care and attention.