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Indian motorbike maker Bajaj takes on Tata's cheap cars with RE60

January 03, 2012|By Tiffany Hsu
  • Bajaj Auto Managing Director Rajiv Bajaj sits near Bajaj four-wheeler RE60 during its launch in New Delhi on Tuesday.
Bajaj Auto Managing Director Rajiv Bajaj sits near Bajaj four-wheeler… (Manish Swarup / AP Photo )

Tata, maker of the world’s cheapest car, might want to step on the gas: Indian motorbike manufacturer Bajaj Auto now has its own compact vehicle.

Though the company didn’t specify a price when it unveiled its RE60 hatchback on Tuesday, chances are that it’ll be cheap.

For one, Bajaj — known for its two- and three-wheeled vehicles — swears that the RE60 isn’t really a car. Instead, it’s a “four-wheeler” that will probably be most popular for urban use, according to the Hindustan Times.

The vehicle will feature a 200-cc rear-mounted petrol engine and will be able to reach about 43 miles per hour, according to The Times of India. Bajaj, which already exports more than half of the 520,000 three-wheelers it makes each year, expects the RE60 to do brisk business abroad.

Commercial production could start in the next few months, Bajaj said. In its earliest stages, the vehicle was dreamed up by the manufacturer in conjunction with Renault and Nissan Motor Co. as a potential competitor to Tata’s Nano, which often costs less than $3,000 in India.

But Bajaj eventually went on to develop the RE60 on its own and said Tuesday that its partners could abandon the vehicle if they didn’t like it.

The RE60 may not be alone in the market for small passenger vehicles. At the Consumer Electronics Show last year, GM showed off its EN-V electric vehicle – a two-seater that may someday be able to drive itself.

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