Twenty-five years ago, Bajaj Auto introduced India’s first CNG three-wheeler, prompting an unexpected reaction from autorickshaw drivers in Delhi who smashed the windows of a company showroom. Managing Director Rajiv Bajaj was surprised, believing the CNG autorickshaw offered significant value. However, drivers were frustrated due to the lack of CNG fuel pumps, leading to long waits and negating any savings.

Fast forward to today, Bajaj Auto has launched the world’s first CNG motorcycle, the Freedom 125, available in three variants and seven colors, with ex-showroom prices ranging from Rs 95,000 to Rs 1.1 lakh. The CNG infrastructure in India has vastly improved, now featuring 6,000 fuel stations across 335 cities.

Rajiv Bajaj hailed the Freedom 125 as a “gamechanger,” providing freedom from petrol imports, harmful emissions, high petrol prices, range anxiety, and charging station woes. He shared his emotions at the launch, reminiscing about his father. The bike, which took two and a half years to perfect, allows riders to switch between CNG and petrol seamlessly.

The Freedom 125 promises 50% savings on fuel compared to petrol motorcycles. It boasts a CNG tank range of over 200 km and an additional 130 km with its 2-liter petrol tank, totaling a range of 330 km. Consumers can save around Rs 15,000 annually on fuel, recovering the price difference between CNG and petrol bikes. Bajaj Auto is collaborating with oil companies to expand the CNG network and include dedicated two-wheeler segments for convenience.

Environmentally, the Freedom 125 reduces CO2 emissions by 26.7%, non-methane hydrocarbons by 85%, and nitrogen oxides by 43% compared to petrol bikes. Bajaj advocated for lowering the tax on cleaner fuel vehicles from 28% to 12%, noting that electric vehicles are taxed at 5%.

Union Minister Nitin Gadkari emphasized his mission to reduce air pollution and fossil fuel imports. He highlighted projects to produce CNG from rice straw (bio-CNG) and suggested Bajaj Auto consider a bike running on 100% bioethanol. Bajaj Auto aims to capture a significant share of the entry-level bike market with the Freedom 125, anticipating high demand given the existing popularity of 100 cc and 125 cc bikes.

Currently, Bajaj Auto holds an 88% market share in CNG three-wheelers and hopes to replicate this success in motorcycles. Initially, 10,000 units of the Freedom 125 will be produced monthly, with plans to increase to 40,000 units by the end of the financial year. The initial focus will be on Gujarat and Maharashtra, with export plans for markets such as Egypt, Tanzania, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Colombia, and Peru. Reflecting on past market shifts, Bajaj believes the Freedom 125 could be a milestone moment for the two-wheeler industry.

Topics #Automobile #Bajaj #Bajaj Auto #CNG #CNG bike #Manufacturing #New Bike #New Vehicle #news #Rajiv Bajaj