Could Bajaj have spotted a major new niche? (image courtesy of the Hindustan Times)

Could Bajaj have spotted a major new niche? (image courtesy of the Hindustan Times)

Bajaj Auto's MD claims that his firm's new RE60 micro-vehicle is a four-wheeler, not a car.

There is logic behind Bajaj's statement: he wants two- and three-wheeler customers in his two largest markets, India and Sri Lanka, to view the RE60 as their next step up. The company that he leads sells over half a million scooters, motorbikes and auto-rickshaws annually in the home market alone, which is big business in anyone's language.

Bajaj was on course to sell over 200,000 RE two-wheelers in India during 2011 so you can suddenly see the thinking behind the new car, sorry, four-wheeler's model name. The vehicle architecture has reportedly been developed from that of a three-wheeler and therein lies a big clue as to aspirations that Bajaj has for the RE60.

Various government ministers have been vocal in recent times over their desire to steadily phase out the heavily polluting and noisy auto-rickshaws which ply their trade in major metropolises such as Delhi. Rajiv Bajaj might well be onto something, then.

There are claimed to be an astonishing five million three-wheeled vehicles on India's roads. No doubt he can see a huge business opportunity there, especially if legislation is passed that would force operators to replace them with a safer, closed-cabin alternative.