Bajaj-Renault small car venture finally on the skids

Bajaj Auto, with its focus firmly on motorcycles and three-wheeled vehicles, has abandoned for good its plans to make a small car to rival Tata Motors' Nano, which was to be marketed by the Renault-Nissan combine under their respective brand-names.

The joint project, first anounced by managing director Rajiv Bajaj on the eve of the launch of the Tata Nano at the 2008 New Delhi Auto show (See: Bajaj Auto to market its small car in four years)

The joint project, first envisaged in 2007, has been on the rocks for some time now, with Bajaj saying in June this year that it was developing a new three-wheeler platform which would be adapted for the small car, and Renault-Nissan rejecting the concept.

Bajaj was to have designed and made the car, while Renault and Nissan were to provide the marketing and sales support. But Nissan made it clear in June this year that it would not lend its name to anything not designed as a full-fledged car.

But late on Thursday, Bajaj Auto managing director Rajiv Bajaj categorically told a news conference in Pune, "We don't intend to get into the low-margin (passenger car) business."

"From 2007 until 2009, we had an initial plan with Renault and Nissan to develop a low-cost small car which would be like the Nano," he said, adding that the head of Renault Carlos Ghosn had been informed.