MUMBAI 03/10/2014: Utility vehicles maker Mahindra & Mahindra has started work on a quadricycle, a new category of commercial vehicle, that will entail an investment of Rs100-150 crore and take at least 24 months to develop, posing possibly the first competition to Bajaj\'s RE 60, which is almost ready to hit the market. The project is code-named C101 and the quadricycle will be built on an all-new platform, people familiar with the matter told ET. The vehicle is expected to be produced at M&M\'s Zaheerabad facility, they said, adding that the company is hoping to add 15,000-60,000 units to its incremental sales volumes over three to five years. \"M&M has already got a vehicle from Europe for benchmarking and the initial conceptualisation work has begun,\" a person close to the company said on condition of anonymity. The vehicle is likely to be powered by a 200-300 cc petrol engine, which is expected to be available in both single cylinder and twin cylinder options, the person said, adding that the vehicle is likely to hit the market in 2017. An M&M spokesperson declined to comment on the matter. According to experts, it is a logical move for M&M to get into the quadricycle market as the new category will help fulfil the company\'s vision of becoming an end-to-end solutions provider in utility vehicles.
M&M has a market share of 12-15% in small people movers category, with vehicles such as Maxximo Van, and in threewheelers its market share is 8-10%. Bajaj Auto, on its part, has already produced some test mules and the certification agency ARAI is shortly expected to give homologation certificate for the vehicle to ply on Indian roads. Quadricycles, which have a hard top and doors, are largely expected to replace the auto-rickshaws. Nearly 4 lakh three-wheelers are sold in the country every year, mainly as auto-rickshaws. While Bajaj Auto claims the quadricycle is a safer alternative to three-wheelers, some others in the industry believe it is an unsafe mode of transportation. The clearance to the category will, however, give an unfair advantage to Bajaj Auto, many argue, saying that quadricycles should be introduced when other players are ready too.
The government invited people to come forward with their opposition to the draft notification, which was prepared in the first quarter of this year after the ministries of road transport and law gave their go-ahead. Bajaj Auto\'s RE60 was to be unveiled in the first week of October, but several PIL filed in Karnataka High Court stalled the launch of the vehicle. Three separate PILs were filed in the high courts of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Delhi, keeping the government from including quadricycles in Central Motor Vehicle Rules Act. The Delhi High Court has already refused to clamp a stay on the Centre\'s notification allowing the operation of quadricycles while the case in Andhra Pradesh has been withdrawn. The Karnataka High Court is expected to take up the PIL for hearing in the first week of November.