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Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) and Hero MotoCorp Bajaj Auto May launch Their quadricycle In upcoming years

 With the abatement of the pandemic and ‘travel to office’ becoming the new normal, several automakers are now working on strategies to introduce quadricycles in the next couple of years. While Bajaj Auto is working on reintroducing its Qute quadricycle in a greener avatar, others like Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) and Hero MotoCorp are also working on a timeline for foraying into this segment.

A step up from a traditional autorickshaw, quadricycles are positioned by OEMs as a safer, cleaner and more comfortable alternative to a three-wheeler.  Even though they are called quadricycles, they are motorized vehicles with four wheels and are slightly bigger than a three-wheeler and smaller than a typical car.

As per Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) data, passenger three-wheeler sales in the domestic market rose from 135,414 units in FY21 to 183,607 units in FY22. The number of quadricycles also went up from 12 units in FY21 to 124 units in FY22.

Bajaj, hitherto the only player in the market and which was selling the Bharat Stage (BS)-IV compliant Qute quadricycle in select cities in the domestic market until March 2020, has officially confirmed that it will be coming up with a version complying with the BS-VI emission norms in the medium term.

Bajaj Auto executive director Rakesh Sharma confirmed that the quadricycle, which is currently in the ‘business development’ phase, will see a commercial rollout once it is homologated by the Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) next year.  He also confirmed that there will be an electrical Qute as well. “That will be available in the medium to long term,” he said.

Bajaj had introduced the Qute, initially named RE60, a rear-engine, rear-wheel drive, four-seater quadricycle, aimed primarily at the domestic market as a replacement for the ubiquitous autorickshaw.

M&M is gearing up to roll out a fully-electric quadricycle Atom by 2023.  The product has been designed to meet last-mile connectivity needs and was scheduled for a rollout towards the end of 2020. However, its commercial rollout was delayed by the pandemic.

Even though M&M is yet to reveal the pricing and availability details of the Atom EV quadricycle, it is expected to be available at a starting price of around Rs 3 lakh (ex-showroom) and will be taking on the Bajaj Qute, which costs around Rs 2.5 lakh.

When contacted, an M&M spokesperson said, “We cannot give any guidance on the Atom’s availability at the moment. We will share the details closer to the launch.”

Hero MotoCorp is also believed to be exploring this segment. A company spokesperson, though, denied any such plans.  A senior official, on condition of anonymity, had earlier told that the company is working on a class-changing vehicle, which can be used interchangeably as a two-wheeler or a three-wheeler.

Piaggio India and Tata Motors, which were at one time reported to be working on their own quadricycles, had shelved their plans. It could not be ascertained if either of them has revived its plans to launch quadricycles.

The four-wheeled vehicle has had a rough run in India. “As a concept, a quadricycle is the perfect transition from a two-wheeler to a four-wheeler. It has been a popular mode of transport in Europe, especially in countries like France, with many automakers in this segment. It’s the perfect intracity low-speed runabout providing the ideal benefit mix of compact size, low taxes, low price and economical operation. In India, the quadricycle as an approved vehicle category had been stonewalled for a long time by small car makers citing safety concerns. If three-wheelers could be allowed to ply on the roads, so can the quadricycle,” said Avik Chattopadhyay, an auto industry consultant and cofounder of Expereal, a branding and marketing consultancy.

Also read- Running 200 double-decker EVs is like planting 86,000 trees every year’: Mahesh Babu, CEO, Switch Mobility

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