Bajaj Auto denies reports of break-up with Nissan

Bajaj Auto Ltd today strongly rebutted media reports that the company, India's second- largest motorcycle maker, has scrapped plans for a low-cost car joint venture with Renault SA and will instead supply vehicles to the French company. This report is untrue.

The partnership is intact, and the project is on schedule,'' said S Ravikumar, vice president, business development, in a signed statement.

The normally authoritative Bloomberg had quoted from an interview with managing director Rajiv Bajaj to say, ''There is no need for a manufacturing or a marketing JV, because our responsibilities are distinct. We will just be an original equipment maker.''

Ashish Sinharoy, a Mumbai-based spokesman for Renault's India unit, had declined to comment, the report added. Nonetheless, it was widely picked up by the media.

Ravikumar said in his rebuttal, ''All that we have acknowledged, which in itself is not new, is that as per the understanding reached between Carlos Ghosn, president, Renault-Nissan Alliance and Rajiv Bajaj in November 2009, Bajaj Auto is responsible for development/manufacture while Renault-Nissan are responsible for marketing
/ sales.

''As such we can fulfil our mutual objective through a simple original equipment manufacturer (OEM) arrangement, and without the need to necessarily create a new corporate entity in the form of a joint venture. Hence in our view this status is neither new, nor any different from that of November 2009.

Renault-Nissan and Bajaj announced the original venture plan in 2008. Carlos Ghosn, chairman of Boulogne-Billancourt, France-based Renault, in November said the small car may be priced at about $3,000.