Why Nano Failed and why the RE60 Quadricycle won’t ink any success story
So today I was driving on the Pune – Mumbai expressway and to my surprise I saw the test runs of Bajaj Quadricycle RE60. The launch should not be far away (and I have not noticed if it has already happened).
Few years ago Bajaj made it to the news by saying that they will be working with Nissan (and Renault) to get the cheapest car on the roads – cheaper than the ‘Nano’. I am glad that they failed or discontinued their attempt because the folks behind Tata Motors had got the Market Strategy and positioning all wrong.
Tata Nano, simply failed, because of the following 2 elements:
1. Everyone who owns and Indica or Indigo or anyone who knows anyone who owns an Indica and Indigo, will never buy a Tata vehicle unless it completes 2 years in the market and the reports are good. And for Nano, the reports were never favorable.
2. 99% of India thinks of the car as a status symbol and any such individual would never like to possess the ‘cheapest car’. Infact, with Tata Nano entering the market as the cheapest car, the sales of Suzuki 800 and Alto increased because they were no longer regarded as the cheapest.
With regards to the RE60 Quadricycle from Bajaj, I have struggled with the market positioning of this car or vehicle or quadricycle (whatever, they want it to be called). It is not legally classified as a car and it cannot be sold to individuals. So, it is not competing with Tata Nano but it is competing with either the Tata ACE and likes, which given it’s size, I doubt it will be able to.
So, in a nutshell it is just a replacement for the normal 3-seater auto-rickshaw – a category that Bajaj already has a strong presence in.
Today, the car was out on the highway, for what appeared to be mileage tests, running at the regulated speed limit of 80 kmph. Their max. speed is anyway 90 kmph.
According to Bajaj, the RE60 will give three-wheeler users the safety of a fourth wheel. That’s not a bad thought – in-fact the Tata ACE Magic and the likes already have people carrier versions that have replaced the 6 and 9 seater auto rickshaws in the city suburbs and rural areas.
However, with two front-wheels and a steering wheel, if it is to replace the normal auto-rickshaw on the streets of the city, the maneuverability is the biggest element that will be compromised. In comparison with the normal auto-rickshaw the price will be at-least double and unless there is a Government mandate to add safety (as offered by a complete body) elements to the three-wheelers, I don’t see this segment moving upwards.
Had this product made it to the market before the Tata Ace and likes, it would have managed to create a segment, a share and would have been the most-selling USCV (Ultra Small Commercial Vehicles). However, it comes 10 years later than when it should have made it to the market. The story is very similar to that of Tata Nano – a ‘flop’ strategy and market placement – and
At the end of the day, we can praise frugal engineering as much as we want to. And our Prime Minister may continue selling these buzz words everywhere he goes. But, like Tata Nano, this product lacks common-sense engineering.
Frugal Engineering should never compromise Common-Sense Engineering. We need products that people need, and for that mis-match RE60 isn’t going to ink any success story.