Bajaj has become the first mainstream Indian motorcycle brand to enter the electric space and simultaneously return to the scooter segment with its new Urbanite sub-division. And the first product from this brand is the Chetak – a nameplate that returns after almost 14 years.
Production for the scooter began on September 25, 2019, and Bajaj has said that the electric Chetak's price will be revealed at its Pune launch in January 2020. The scooter will be positioned as a premium product and Rajiv Bajaj, MD, Bajaj Auto was quoted as saying, "I hesitate to call it an aggressive price, but we'll price it attractively. It's not going to be as high as Rs 1.5 lakh." After Pune, Bajaj will move on to Bengaluru as the company wants to study market response before moving to other cities. The scooter also qualifies for the FAME II subsidy.
Motor and battery
The Chetak will use a 4kW electric motor and while exact battery specs have not been revealed so far, the e-scooter will use an IP67-rated lithium-ion battery pack. The battery is not removable. The e-scooter also has two riding modes – Eco and Sport – and it will have a reverse assist feature as well. Range is quoted at 85km and 95km in Sport and Eco modes, respectively. Bajaj points out that these figures were achieved through real-world testing within Pune city and that the ARAI test figures will be much higher.
The scooter has an in-built charger and the vehicle can be charged using a regular 5-ampere home power outlet. There will be no DC fast charging feature (Bajaj says the range is adequate enough to not require this feature) and a full charge will take around five hours. Bajaj says they will also sell a home-charging station at a ‘nominal cost’ and this charger will also show the amount of energy consumed during charging.
Bajaj appears to have taken a unique route of using a swingarm-mounted motor that sends power to the rear wheel via a 'high-efficiency automated gearbox'. The digital display shows a neutral light as well as what appears to be five notches – which may be for the five gears. We expect the whole system to be automated, but the riding experience is bound to be quite special.
The front suspension is handled by a single-sided trailing arm unit that appears to have coilover setup with an exposed external spring. At the rear, it gets a monoshock, and the scooter runs disc-brake at the front and a drum brake at the rear. The 12-inch wheels are wrapped in MRF Zapper-K tyres. The scooter will also get regenerative braking.
Styling and features
Bajaj has adopted a sleek yet retro styling for the Chetak. The curvy side panels and a wide front apron are contrasted by the contemporary multi-spoke alloy wheels. The face is reminiscent of the Yamaha Fascino, but the electric Chetak features LED lighting all around, with a neat LED DRL that outlines the shape of the headlight. The indicators have a scrolling function like what you see in new-age Audis and the switchgear is said to be ‘feather-touch activated’. A keyless start function also comes as standard.
Bajaj will offer the Chetak in six colours, including the classic ivory and gold seen here, which are void of any graphics to go with the retro-styling. Metal body panels are used here instead of fibre or plastic. The Chetak’s seat has a unique cantilever design that adds a touch of class without sacrificing practicality. Another retro touch is the inclusion of a glove box, but with a modern soft-close effect.
Bajaj has equipped the new Chetak with a fully digital instrument cluster that will display a host of information, but it isn’t a premium TFT unit as seen on the Ather. Decisions like this are expected to help Bajaj price the Chetak more competitively. The e-scooter will have a number of connected features like vehicle parameter monitoring as well as security, and they are likely to be enabled via data connectivity. What is also expected is a special mobile app that gives the rider a comprehensive overview of many aspects of the vehicle and ride history.
The company will stick to its existing network to retail the Chetak e-scooter.
In related news, Bajaj commemorated the Urbanite brand launch with the Chetak Electric Yatra that kicks off in New Delhi today. Participants will take 20 Chetaks through north and western India to travel approximately 3,000km, and end the ride in Pune, Maharashtra.