In recent years, the automotive industry in India has witnessed a significant shift towards cleaner and more economical fuel alternatives. With rising fuel prices and growing environmental concerns, consumers are actively looking for options that will not only reduce their operating costs but also contribute to a greener future. While compressed natural gas (CNG) has gained ground in the automotive segment, the two-wheeler market has been relatively untouched by this alternative. However, Bajaj Auto, a pioneering force in the Indian automobile industry, is gearing up to introduce the first CNG bike in the country. In this article, we delve into the details of Bajaj’s innovative endeavor and its potential impact on the Indian two-wheeler market.
Bajaj’s vision for a cleaner future
Known for its commitment to innovation, Bajaj Auto is on the verge of a remarkable shift in its product line. The company is exploring several fuel options, including LPG, CNG, and ethanol fuels for its bikes. The primary objective is to provide consumers with affordable and eco-friendly alternatives that will not only reduce their operating costs but also help reduce pollution. The most notable development in this regard is Bajaj’s work on a petrol-cum-CNG bike codenamed Bruzer 101.
Plan for a CNG bike
Bajaj’s foray into the CNG two-wheeler segment is far from theoretical; is in an advanced stage of development. The company has already produced several prototypes of the 110 cc motorcycle. If all goes according to plan, this revolutionary bike could see the light of day in as little as six months to a year. Production is expected to begin at Bajaj’s Aurangabad plant with plans to expand to the Pant Nagar plant. The company is also considering using the ‘Platinum’ tag for this landmark CNG bike.
Challenges and Optimism
Rakesh Sharma, managing director of Bajaj Auto, was cautious about sharing specific details about the CNG motorcycle. He acknowledges that exact numbers, timelines, brand names, and specifications have yet to be finalized. However, Sharma stresses that Bajaj is fully aware of the pressing issues facing India, including reducing import bills and curbing pollution. Bajaj Auto’s pioneering work in adapting three-wheelers to CNG and LPG solutions has earned them a significant market share in the passenger three-wheeler segment, a testament to their technical prowess and proactive approach.
Bajaj’s commitment to meet the demand for CNG bikes is evident as their initial production target of 1-1.2 million units per year has been revised upwards to around 2 million units. This robust increase reflects their optimism about the potential of CNG two-wheelers in India.
Government support and industry trends
The introduction of CNG two-wheelers is in line with the Government of India’s vision for a cleaner and more affordable mobility future. In a recent interview, Rajiv Bajaj, managing director of Bajaj Auto, hinted that CNG motorcycles could significantly reduce running costs, making them an attractive option for consumers in the 100-110cc segment. Additionally, lower GST rates on CNG vehicles would further increase their affordability, which would be in line with the government’s push for cleaner fuel alternatives.
Call for GST reduction
The auto industry has been actively lobbying for lower GST rates on CNG vehicles. Automakers like Maruti Suzuki have been vocal in their demand to reduce the GST rate on CNG vehicles to 18 percent. The move is motivated not only by environmental concerns but also by the superior fuel efficiency of CNG and its potential to reduce the import burden on fuel bills.
The Federation of Automobile Dealers (FADA) has also urged the central government to review the GST rates for the two-wheeler segment, which has not yet reached its previous peak, partly due to higher vehicle prices due to BS6/OBD. -2 standards, strict safety standards, and increased insurance costs.
The changing dynamics of the two-wheeler market
The entry-level two-wheeler segment, comprising mainly 100-110 cc motorcycles, is experiencing a shift in dynamics. While the overall two-wheeler market has seen double-digit growth, the entry-level segment lags with a growth rate of 5 percent. The segment’s market share has shrunk to about one-third of the total two-wheeler market, down from nearly 45 percent five years ago.
Several factors contributed to this decline. A 20-30 percent increase in vehicle prices, driven by the implementation of BS6 and OBD-2 standards, stricter safety standards, and higher insurance costs, has made these bikes less affordable for many entry-level buyers. These consumers, whose incomes have been strained by the COVID-19 pandemic, are finding these price increases particularly burdensome.
Bajaj Auto’s ambitious plans to launch CNG bikes in the Indian market represent a significant leap towards cleaner and affordable mobility solutions. With rising fuel prices, environmental concerns, and the need to reduce import bills, CNG two-wheelers could revolutionize the entry-level segment and offer an attractive alternative to traditional petrol motorcycles. Government support in the form of reduced GST rates for CNG vehicles will further boost the prospects of this emerging market.
As Bajaj works tirelessly to bring its CNG bike to the masses, there is an increasing sense of anticipation and hope in the air. Will this innovation change the Indian two-wheeler market? Only time will tell, but the future certainly looks promising for clean and affordable mobility.
1. What is Bajaj’s vision for introducing CNG bikes in India?
Bajaj’s vision is to provide affordable and eco-friendly alternatives in the two-wheeler segment to reduce operating costs and contribute to a cleaner environment.
2. What is the development status of Bajaj CNG bikes?
Bajaj’s CNG bike, codenamed Bruzer 101, is in the final stages of development, with production expected to begin in the near future.
3. What are the challenges in introducing CNG two-wheelers?
Challenges include finalizing specifics such as numbers, timelines, brand names and specifications. Adapting two-wheelers to CNG presents challenges related to space, size and differences in usage.
4. Why is reducing import bills and pollution important to Bajaj?
Bajaj recognizes the importance of addressing these twin challenges for the benefit of the nation and the environment. They were pioneers in the adaptation of tricycles to CNG and LPG.
5. How many CNG bikes does Bajaj plan to produce annually?
The original production plan was to produce around 1-1.2 lakh CNG bikes per year, but this has been revised upwards to around 2 lakh units and more.
6. What role does government support play in promoting CNG vehicles?
The government’s support, including reduced GST rates for CNG vehicles, can make CNG motorcycles more affordable and appealing to consumers, aligning with the government’s clean fuel initiatives.
7. Why has the entry-level two-wheeler segment seen slower growth?
Several factors, including higher vehicle prices due to norms and standards, have contributed to the slower growth in the entry-level two-wheeler.
8. How does the introduction of CNG bikes align with the Indian government’s vision for mobility?
The introduction of CNG bikes aligns with the Indian government’s vision for cleaner and more sustainable mobility solutions. It supports the country’s commitment to reducing pollution, lowering import bills, and encouraging the adoption of eco-friendly transportation options.
9. What impact is Bajaj’s CNG bike likely to have on the two-wheeler market?
Bajaj’s CNG bike could potentially revolutionize the two-wheeler market, particularly in the 100-110cc segment. Offering a cost-effective and environmentally friendly alternative, it may attract a significant consumer base looking to reduce running costs and contribute to a greener future.