A decade after it first generated controversy in India with carmakers facing up against three-wheeler manufacturers, the quadricycle has received a go-ahead from the government in India.
The basic concept is a four-wheel vehicle with a small engine to be positioned between a three-wheeler and a passenger car which does not meet the same safety and emission norms of regular passenger cars and have their own set of regulations. Last year, the Ministry of Roads had formed a technical committee to examine all aspects including safety norms which would then enable the government to announce a policy. So far, only Europe has a quadricycle segment with the Renault Twizy being one example.
Now, with the Centre deciding to give a nod to manufacture and sale of the quadricycle, a new vehicle category in the Indian market, there is finally some clarity on the subject. With this approval, Rajiv Bajaj, managing director, Bajaj Auto, who has been aggressively pushing the case for the company’s RE60 quadricycle, can go ahead with production soon. It will be Bajaj Auto’s first foray into the four-wheeler space. In fact, a near-production-ready RE60 was recently snapped testing.
Bajaj Auto, which first showcased the RE60 at the Auto Expo in 2012, is believed to have invested Rs. 500 crore in developing the quadricycle platform. Also, it has the manufacturing capacity to roll out over 60,000 RE60s annually. Bajaj Auto says the RE60 is safer than the everyday autorickshaw and that it even emits lesser CO2.
The RE60 is constructed on a lightweight, metal-polymer monocoque, which keeps the vehicle’s kerb weight at just under 400kg. Power will come from a 200cc single-cylinder liquid-cooled rear mounted four-stroke DTS-i engine, which is good for approximately 20bhp.The RE60 will come with a 2+2 or 1+3 seating layout option, a 44-litre boot and a top speed of 70kph. Its 2.75m length, 1.3m width and 3.5m turning circle radius should make it very good for manoeuvring in city traffic.
However, it is not a free run for quadricycles in India as the government has restricted their use and registration only as a transport (commercial) vehicle carrying both passenger and goods within city limits and rural areas. This means these vehicles cannot be run on highways or for personal use. Also, to differentiate quadricycles from the passenger cars, every quadricycle will have to bear a ‘Q’ sign.
While one clear beneficiary of quadricycles will be Bajaj Auto, this new vehicle segment is likely to also see much interest from other three-wheeler manufacturers in the country.
Bajaj RE60 production version spy pics