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Bird Group’s EV hatchback plans in limbo, affected by the border confrontation

The Bird Group, a leading Chinese EV major had tied up with a Chinese automaker Haima Automobiles to assemble hatchback cars in India.

The Indian promoter, the Bhatia’s, are now supposedly reassessing the joint venture as the Governments of India and China grapple over resolving the border issue in Ladakh.

The hatchback was planned with a price tag of around Rs.10 Lakh and was expected to be launched in June 2021.

Haima had been initially set up as a joint venture between Mazda and the Hainan provincial government. They were to sell rebadged cars of their Japanese partner. The company was later sold to the state-owned First Automobile works. Sources inform that this had to be done due to the changed geopolitical situation between India and China.

The hatchback was to be assembled in India, and both the Chinese and the Indian partners did not want any disruption in the supply of the key imported components due to the crisis between the two nations.

The Delhi-based Bird group company person declined to give his comments on the issue.

The Bird group now wants to move on from the hatchback and will focus on the Electric Two Wheelers.

Bird has recently tied up with the Australian e-mobility brand VMoto and will now launch its model range that includes the Vmoto CUX and the CU mini range of electric two-wheelers.

Bird will buy a minimum of 10,000 units in its first year of operation when the launch is made by end of 2021.

The company is said to be targeting the affordable mass market and will face rivals like Ola Electric, which is setting up a 10 million per annum capacity, and Hero Electric. While the Ola Electric model is expected to be launched by July 2021, Hero Electric is the leader in the segment at present and plans to double its capacity.

“We will be looking at assembling the product in the country and are looking at third-party outsourcing deals too,” said a source aware of the developments at the Bird group.

This will not be Bird’s first venture in the Electric Two-Wheeler segment. The company had a failed venture with US-based Bird Rides Inc in 2020 ,when it had introduced the Bird Cruiser for the B2B segment.

And in India, it has been the exclusive dealer for Segway Personnel Transporter for the last decade. It offers a range of mobility transport options for playing golf, airports, businesses, and law enforcement agencies. These products are assembled in India and priced in the range of Rs.6-7 lakh. Their market is however ,very limited.

The Indian Partners, Bhatias, have been one of the key dealers of BMW in India and understand the Automobile business here.

The Bhatias have other diversified interests including ground handling of airlines, Amadeus reservation system for ticketing, and also an upmarket chain of hotels in the United Kingdom and India.

They also were in the news for having made a bid for Air India with Ajay Singh, promoter of Spice Jet.


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