This week in Auto: An electric bike with fake noise; Kia debuts in India with the Seltos SUV

Image result for This week in Auto: An electric bike with fake noise; Kia debuts in India with the Seltos SUVFinally the time is near when bikes won’t need to stop and refill at petrol stations because they come powered by lithium-ion batteries and not by internal combustion engines. To that effect, a former manufacturer of smartphones unveiled a smart bike powered by electricity, which is due to launch in July. But, will buyers warm up to it? We are going to discuss more on this, but here is a look at all the important developments of the automotive space during the week.

Moody’s downgrades Tata Motors

Global rating agency Moody’s Investors Service on June 20 downgraded Tata Motors’ credit rating by a notch on the floundering performance of its British subsidiary Jaguar Land Rover.

The corporate family rating and the company’s senior unsecured instruments rating have also been downgraded to “Ba3” from “Ba2” with a negative outlook.

Kia debuts in India with Seltos

Hyundai Group company Kia Motors has finally debuted in India with the unveiling of the made-for-India Seltos, a mid-size sports utility vehicle that will compete against the Hyundai Creta and Tata Harrier.

Manufactured at the Anantpur factory in Andhra Pradesh, the Seltos will be commercially launched in July, which is also when Kia plans to open bookings and reveal the pricing. The market expects the vehicle to be priced at in the range of Rs 10-15 lakh.

BMW names Rudratej Singh as India head

German luxury car maker BMW on June 19 said it had appointed Rudratej Singh as the president and CEO of BMW Group in India, effective from August 1.

Singh moves to BMW group from Eicher Motors’ motorcycle arm Royal Enfield, where he served as the global president of the company.

Renault unveils Triber MPV in India

French auto major Renault on June 19 made its global unveil of its compact multi-purpose vehicle Triber in India, where it aims to double total sales by 2022.

Renault Triber is the outcome of a joint project between Renault teams in India and France and is the world’s first vehicle specifically designed for the Indian market, the company said.

Micromax founder launches electric bike

Not too long ago, one in every five mobile phones sold in India was by Micromax. Headquartered in Gurugram, Micromax shipped more phones than anyone to become the market-leader after dethroning Korean giant Samsung.

But, by end of 2018, Micromax closed with a share of just 2 percent. From being a household name, Micromax vanished from swanky display shelves, replaced by much stronger Chinese brands like Xiaomi, Oppo and Vivo.

Micromax’s founder Rahul Sharma dabbled with other consumer electronic segments such at televisions, laptops, sound systems and even air conditioners, much on the lines of Xiaomi. But, his biggest bet yet came earlier in the week.

Revolt Intellicorp, an electric two-wheeler startup, set up by Sharma unveiled fully electric motorcycle RV400. To be commercially launched in July, this will be the first battery-powered bike to burn rubber on Indian roads.

The artificial intelligence-enabled bike delivers a range of 156 km on single charge with a top-speed of 85km per hour, the company has claimed. A 15 ampere plug point means that the RV400 will not need a separate charging infrastructure.

But, does Revolt have in itself to challenge the conventional? Can RV400 which looks identical to the Chinese Super Soco find buyers? Will buyers place their money on a company having no experience of building motorcycles?

Will buyers bypass petrol-powered options to buy the more expensive RV400? Micromax was not well-known for its service back-up. Can Revolt beat that record? Will buyers place their trust on a bike where it has not been revealed how it is developed or what testing cycles it has gone through?

But, Sharma is putting forward a long list of product features which, he hopes, will entice the buyers to his showrooms, a strategy which was used widely by him during the Micromax days. Some of these will also be industry-firsts in India and perhaps in the world too.

For instance, the RV400 will allow owners to download tunes and use them as the fake exhaust noise since fully electric bikes do not make any noise of their own unlike the petrol-powered bikes whose engines make loud noises.

Piaggio holds launches of two Aprilia bikes

Piaggio Vehicles has decided to hold the launches of two awaited Aprilia bikes that it had showcased at the 2018 Indian Auto Expo.

The Aprilia RS 150 and Tuono 150 were the two premium bikes that the Italian two and three-wheeler maker Piaggio had committed to launching in the Indian market in the segment dominated by Bajaj Auto.