On the auspicious occasion of Gudi Padwa on April 13, Bajaj Auto Ltd, the Pune-based manufacturer of Pulsar motorcycles, stopped taking new bookings for its Chetak electric scooter within 48 hours of opening the doors.
Customers from Bengaluru and Pune were the only ones who could make reservations for Chetak.
“On the auspicious day of Gudi Padwa, bookings opened at 9:00 a.m., and customers were able to book Chetak online on a first-come, first-served basis. A large number of reported orders were placed, prompting Bajaj Auto to stop accepting bookings within 48 hours,” the company said in an official statement today.
The company said it would study the supply situation and reveal the next round of booking opportunities in the future, without revealing the amount of new bookings earned for Chetak.
“Last year’s COID-19-related delays resulted in an unintended and lengthy waiting period, but we have seen very few cancellations of bookings as a result. We appreciate our customers’ patience and overwhelming response in Pune and Bengaluru,” said Rakesh Sharma, executive director of Bajaj Auto. Because of the ongoing supply chain uncertainty, the firm had to make the decision to close the bookings, he added.
Though the company is working to address the parts supply issues as soon as possible, Sharma said the company expects to reopen bookings and extend the availability of the Chetak to more cities across India starting in Q2 FY22.
Notably, the organisation imports some vital parts for the Chetak scooter assembly from Wuhan, China, which is the epicentre of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
The Chetak EV was first introduced in January of last year, with a starting price of INR1 lakh, including government incentives for electric vehicles. The launch not only marked the return of the iconic Chetak brand and the company’s scooter business after a decade, but it also signaled Bajaj Auto’s foray into the electric vehicle market.
COVID-19-related disturbances forced a national lockdown and the closure of all manufacturing facilities shortly after its commercial launch last year. Later, although the company concentrated on resuming production of key models such as Pulsar motorcycles and other luxury products, Chetak production remained halted due to the difficulties in obtaining some parts from China.
According to data released by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) earlier this week, the company manufactured about 1,800 units of the Chetak EV last fiscal year and sold close to 1,400 units.
The Chetak EV is produced at Bajaj Auto’s Chakan plant, which has a 1.2 million-unit annual output. As the factory hits maximum size, demand surges, rendering it impossible for the two-wheeler manufacturer to rapidly reduce its order backlog.
This year, the organisation expects to extend Chetak EV retail operations to 30 locations. Bajaj Auto signed a deal with the Maharashtra government in December to construct its second manufacturing plant in Chakan, near Pune, for INR 650 crore. The company expects to start operations in FY23, with the new plant dedicated to the manufacture of luxury motorcycles and electric scooters.