Bajaj Auto to market its small car in four years

New Delhi: Bajaj Auto Ltd, has signalled the start of its transition from a motorbike manufacturer to a maker of four wheeled transport.

Bajaj has announced that it will bring to market in about four years, a low-cost small car that "will not cost Rs1 lakh." Though widely speculated that this venture will see the partnership of French car maker Renault along with Japan's Nissan Motor Co., the same has not been affirmed yet.

Speaking at a news conference, Bajaj Auto managing director Rajiv Bajaj said, "We think the world is moving to small cars and big bikes and we are moving there. In the very, very unlikely event (of talks with Renault and Nissan falling through), we have every intent to move forward," Bajaj said, confirming that negotiations were on with the French and Japanese car makers, though the same still had some ground to cover before fructification.

According to a company statement, Bajaj is negotiating with Renault and Nissan to co-develop the small car. Domestic utility vehicle major Mahindra and Mahindra had announced its exit from its joint venture with the French-Japanese duo, ostensibly expressing unhappiness at their decision to go with Bajaj on this project.

Indian conglomerate, the House of Tata, would also be announcing the launch of its own small Rs1-lakh car in about a day or so, at the 9th  Auto Expo that opens in New Delhi on 9 January.

According to Bajaj, the car will have both petrol and diesel variants. It would be made at Chakan, near Pune. Bajaj's plant there will initially have a capacity of 250,000 units, and will also produce light trucks which Bajaj expects to launch around 2009.