RIP, Bajaj Chetak (1972-2005)

bajchet.jpgThough we reported the end of the Bajaj on April 1, this India Times story from January 2006 (a reprint– the India Times page is popup-tastic, and thanks for the link, Matthew) says production officially stopped at Bajaj’s Akurdi plant on December 31st, 2005. (apparently Maharashtra continued building them from ‘CKD packs’ for three months.) The story is depressing, with chairman Rahul Bajaj citing their importance to Indian Culture (“…marriages did not happen without Chetak. It was a compulsory dowry item,” he says), while his son and Bajaj Managing Director Rajiv Bajaj argues, “Holding on to anything from the past is a sign of weakness.” Even if Rajiv has been reading too many western business management books, his statement that “”Like the Volkswagen Beetle, the product had lost its relevance,” is ridiculous, the redesigned Beetle (and soon Rabbit) thrive on nostalgia. Perhaps, like Costantino Sambuy slamming then embracing the Vespa P-series design, he’ll change his story when a “new” Chetak appears in a year or two. In any case, we still have the LML Star, for the time being, and the new Scooter World 2006 Buyer’s Guide for some reason lists the Chetak and Legend, probably because ArgoUSA still had some ads left in their contract.

7 thoughts on “RIP, Bajaj Chetak (1972-2005)”

  1. Let me guess, you are not an officially certified and legitimized Piaggio blog?

  2. Well, ArgoUsa is claiming that they still have quite a number of Chetaks left to sell for the rest of the year and that they can still get spare parts for much time to come so provided enough people in this country know how to work on them, they’re still a decent option.

  3. Sure, Matthew. I’ve always been a big BajajUSA supporter, they’re fine scooters, and Argo’s dedication to their customers, along with the Chetak’s ages-long market dominance in India, will ensure parts supply for years to come.

    But I think it’s a disservice to consumers to present scooters that were likely imported in 2004–not to mention discontinued in 2005–as 2006-model bikes.

    If I were Al at Argo, I’d do the same thing, he obviously wants and needs to continue selling them, I was more trying to make the point that any “Buyers Guide” is pretty thin on journalism, it’s usually just a favor for advertisers. That’s not really an insult to Scooter World, they’re clearly more successful than I am, but they’re a commercial publication and thus they have obligations to advertisers that a bitter, penniless crapfest like 2strokebuzz does not, ha.

    On another note, what do you think Costatino Sambuy is doing these days?

  4. I’m just hoping that they don’t become like the old German scooters in that you CAN get parts for them and there are SOME people who can work on them but they’re not the easiest things in the world to own. I suppose as long as Phil is still around I’ll have the possiblity to keep mine running.

    On the other hand considering the amount of money those German bikes are fetching maybe I should just drain the Chetak of all fluids and put it somewhere safe and dry.

    And buyer’s guides are just press releases unless the publication actually includes editorial content.

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