Remember Bajaj Chetak Scooter? It’s Coming Back In New Avatar!
The image of an Indian family with the husband driving a Bajaj Chetak scooter, wife sitting at the back with 2 kids will be embedded forever into our memories. In 2009, this image got a slight interruption as Bajaj had decided to stop manufacturing their Chetak scooters and solely concentrate on bikes.
But with stiff competition from TVS Motors, Hero and Honda, Bajaj’s grip on the 2 wheeler market is sliding at a faster rate than they had imagined.
Compared to 2,73,323 units sold in February, 2014, they only managed to sell 2,16,077 units in February, 2015, a drop of 21%.
Investors were worried, so were the management of Bajaj Auto.
But, their decision to revamp Chetak and reintroduce it in the Indian market has brought smiles all over. Although rumors were abuzz since last year, but a report published in ET has confirmed it.
As per various sources, the new Chetak would be without gears, fully automatic with 125-150 CC four-stroke engine. This gives us hint that they may target a segment which is currently dominated by Activa from Honda and Scooty from TVS Motors along with other such models. Bajaj may launch this new model of Chetak during Auto Expo 2016.
Investors have given their green signal as the day this news arrived, Bajaj Auto shares picked up momentum and gained 1.2% while at the same day TVS Motors shares dropped 2.5%.
Bajaj Chetak was launched in 1979, based on the design and specifications of Italian scooter company Vespa’s Sprint model. The name Chetak was based on Maharana Pratap’s horse which was legendary for its bravery and power.
In the mid 1980s, Bajaj discontinued their partnership with Vespa, and started producing 100% Indian made Chetak scooters, which gave rise to their famous slogan: “Hamara Bajaj” which means “Our Bajaj”. It was the symbol of a new found independence in manufacturing which India was experiencing, and the scooter became one of the biggest hits of 2-wheeler industry.
During 1990s, more than 100,000 units sold every month, and the waiting list was for decades! People actually paid extra to buy a Chetak, which had become an icon, a trendsetter in India.
The famous advertisement of Bajaj Chetak: Hamara Bajaj (1989)
Although it faced competition from LML India, which launched several units based on Vespa’s various models such as Vespa PX 150, Sprint and more, they never got even close to what Chetak was in its heydays.
But during the early 2000s, the sale of bikes began to pick up, and the focus of Bajaj Auto shifted to this new segment, which was registering more sales. This change in priority can be seen in this TV ad of early 2000, where the concept of ‘Hamara Bajaj’ is being used, but instead of scooters, they are showing bikes.
As per insiders, Rahul Bajaj, who was the chairman of Bajaj Auto was in favor of continuing with Chetak and other models of scooters but Rajiv Bajaj, MD of Bajaj Auto wanted them to discontinue and solely focus on bikes.
Eventually Rajiv won and the production of Chetak was stopped in 2009, which became a sensational news and even international publications covered this news, bemoaning India’s loss of heritage and tradition.
It would be interesting to observe how Bajaj markets this new Chetak, in 2015. Will they use “Hamara Bajaj” concept or device entirely new form of marketing communication?
Do share your views by commenting right here!