The future of vehicles is not gasoline, and legacy automobile companies will be well advised to begin diversifying their products. Not only is the future of automobiles electric, in the long term, but it might also even be Hydrogen-fuel powered. Several electric vehicle startups have come up all across India whose sole aim is to give Indian consumers electric vehicles. Particularly in the two and three-wheeler segments, Indian companies are just beginning to untap the potential of the markets, and the want of Indians to buy electric vehicles. Naturally, legacy companies that have historically shied away from innovation and modernisation are behaving like their pants are on fire. They are taking sly digs at EV companies and making grand fools of themselves while at it.
Case in point being Rajeev Bajaj. The MD of Bajaj Auto was asked at the launch event of the new Pulsar about EVs and start-ups to which he said he would rather bet on BET (Bajaj, Enfield, TVS) and the reason is that legacy two-wheeler companies have demonstrated their capabilities. What was really distasteful about Bajaj’s statement was the fact that he said legacy automobile companies are champions and they eat OATS (Ola, Ather, Tork, and SmartE) for breakfast. He said, “I’m going to bet on BET. BET means Bajaj, Enfield, and TVS. They are champions and they have a proved track record…We are champions and we eat OATS (Ola, Ather, Torks and SmartE) for breakfast.”
Rajeev Bajaj also took a shot at Ola. He stated that “among startups the biggest is Ola but they haven’t produced or sold anything. Ather we enormously respect.”
What do champions eat for breakfast? For Rajiv Bajaj, it's OATS.
— BloombergQuint (@BloombergQuint) October 28, 2021
Rajeev Bajaj Gets Demolished
Merely a day after Bajaj made such remarks against the electric vehicle startups, Ather – a Bengaluru-based electric scooter start-up posted a picture of an oats packet on social media with the caption – “Launching our new line of products for a quicker and smarter start to the day — OATs for champions Bowl with spoon. Recommended by experts.”
— Ather Energy (@atherenergy) October 29, 2021
Ather effectively made it known to Bajaj and all other naysayers that it has the capability of launching a new product line within a day, while companies like Bajaj keep producing rather substandard vehicles for decades. Meanwhile, Ola did not hold back in terms of hitting back at Bajaj either. It did, indeed, choose the more elegant way of responding.
The Ola CEO, Bhavish Agarwal retweeted a tweet by a user (@haryanvi) that mentioned how Bajaj Chetak is not even in the competition with Ola and Ather electric scooters. The said tweet compared the sales numbers of Chetak, Ather, and Ola e-scooters and highlighted the fact that how Ola Electric sold ~90k scooters in one window even before a single unit rolled out of the factory while Ather sold 1,800 EVs in July alone.
— Bhavish Aggarwal (@bhash) October 28, 2021
Bajaj’s Slide into Oblivion
Bajaj Motors has really failed to grab the pulse of India. Bajaj Chetak was a household name 20 years ago in India. That was because Indians had no choice, and had to make-do with the unforgiving Chetak scooters which Bajaj manufactured. How these scooters turned into a real pain for users just a few years after use requires no introduction. Still, Bajaj failed to improve its products and facilities. Its Pulsar did a decent job, but again, it became a hit at a time when all other bikes in the Indian market were considerably more expensive.
Today, nobody really wants to go for a Pulsar. Bajaj is living in a false reality. It does not enjoy the status it once did within India. Today, Bajaj is nobody’s go-to two-wheeler choice. And if it does not shed its undue ego soon, Bajaj might soon run out of business because of the very startups its MD is so casually jibing against.