India's first quadricycle, made by Pune-based Bajaj Auto, faces opposition on the proposed launch of its RE60 in Sri Lanka, with the local traffic head raising safety concerns.
Sri Lanka is the biggest passenger three-wheeler market for Bajaj Auto outside India. The RE60 is their proposed replacement for such three-wheelers, promising the comfort and safety of a fourth wheel, in addition to seat belts and a hard top.
Speaking to a newspaper in that country, Business Times, the commissioner-general of motor traffic, S H Harischandra, said: "The Bajaj Auto RE60 is worse than a three-wheeler, as it’s a very light vehicle and not suitable for main roads and expressways. It cannot be registered as a four-wheel car under the Sri Lanka Motor Traffic regulations."
He said the department had refused the entry of these Indian-made quadricycles, mainly due to passenger safety issues. "The RE60 is neither a car nor an auto rickshaw and there was no guarantee on its afety standards," the newspaper stated.
However, Bajaj Auto stated it would proceed with the proposed launch in Sri Lanka, stating, "We are confident that Sri Lanka will be a good market for our quadricycles."
Beside red-flagging entry of the RE60, the new regime in Sri Lanka that assumed office in January has halted import of Bajaj's Discover series of two-wheelers.
The company had an export of 30,000 motorcycles a month.
Pune-based Bajaj had earlier declared it would look at export markets for the RE60 if the vehicle did not get regulatory clearance in India. Subsequently, it had said for the product to succeed abroad, it needed to be launched in the home market.
While the Union ministry of road transport and highways gave a green flag for the quadricycle launch in India, half a dozen public interest suits in different courts have stalled the launch.
Bajaj Auto has out Rs 550 crore into developing the vehicle and setting up capacity at Aurangabad in Maharashtra. The RE60 is powered by a 216cc DTS-i liquid-cooled fuel-injection petrol engine that churns out maximum power of 20bhp, while returning 35km a litre.