Today, Nissan/Renault’s Indian partner Rajaj introduced an ultra low-cost car. Actually, Rajaj does not call it a car. Rajaj calls it a “four wheeler.” An analyst called it an “upgraded rickshaw.” Rajaj thinks the analyst is right on target.
According to the New York Times, Rajaj is “aiming for drivers of rickshaws, which operate as short-distance taxis in India, by pitching them impressive new features like seat belts, doors and a hard top.”
The car rickshaw is called RE60 and putters on a one-cylinder, 200cc engine, which gives it a top speed of 70 kilometers per hour, or 43 miles per hour. Bajaj said the RE60 would deliver 35 kilometers per liter, or 82 miles per gallon. The price is still a secret.
The car rickshaw also is not the future Renault/Nissan ultra-low cost car, as erroneously reported. That car just went into development and should be ready within five years.
Bajaj managing director Mr Rajiv told India’s Statesman that representatives of Renault-Nissan alliance “have not seen the product yet and will be seeing it at the Auto-Expo. Once they see it, we will decide the way forward.” The Auto Expo is opening in New Delhi tomorrow. It doesen’t sound like Renault/Nissan will go for the motorized rickshaw. Reuters says that Renault “will announce plans for low-cost cars in India this year with Japanese affiliate Nissan, after weighing the alliance’s technologies against those of potential partners.”
In the meantime, the New York Times did its own market research amongst New Delhi rickshaw drivers:
“In New Delhi, several rickshaw drivers expressed ambivalence about the RE60 on Tuesday afternoon, saying they did not see much benefit in upgrading to four wheels. Suran Singh, who has been driving a rickshaw for 26 of his 40 years, said doors and a hard top would help keep out the cold during the winter but would make him too hot in the scorching Delhi summers.”