How Did Bajaj Chetak, an Indian Motorcycle that beat Global Players with these 3 Strategies?

Did you know that in the 1970s and 80s, Chetak was the dowry of choice in North India, and wedding dates were often moved around to match the scooter’s delivery

Bajaj Auto Founder - Rahul Bajaj with his pride, Bajaj Chetak Scooter

The Bajaj Chetak, named after the legendary horse of Indian warrior Maharana Pratap, was introduced by Bajaj Auto in 1972. Its design was based on the Italian Vespa Sprint. Bajaj Auto initially collaborated with Piaggio, the maker of Vespa, before developing the Chetak.

Competitive pricing was key, making it accessible to a broad segment of the Indian middle class, though the actual price is still unclear, it was still selling at par with its Global peers who couldn't enter India until 1991.

Chetak was positioned as a family scooter and an affordable means of transportation for millions of Indian families for decades and is lovingly called Hamara Bajaj (Our Bajaj).

The Chetak’s sales were so strong that if reports are to be believed, it had a waiting period of about 10 years!
Indian Cinema's icon Amitabh Bachchan with Bajaj Chetak Scooter

Market was Overwhelmed Throughout the 1980s, Bajaj Chetak became a household name, with sales growing steadily.

It’s reported that at its peak, Bajaj Auto was selling hundreds of thousands of units annually. In the mid-1990s, annual sales of Bajaj scooters (Chetak being a significant part) often exceeded 500,000 units. The Chetak became an icon, synonymous with durability and reliability. Around 1980, the Vespa-licensed design was replaced with an all-new in-house design that shared the same general appearance and style.

Famous Humara Bajaj Campaign


For decades, the Chetak dominated the Indian scooter market.

1995-98 was a golden period for India’s scooter market. In 1998, scooters made up 75% of the two-wheeler industry’s annual volumes. Bajaj Auto enjoyed a market share of close to 60%, largely because of Chetak.

Bajaj Auto continually upgraded the Chetak, incorporating better engines and features over time, thus maintaining a loyal customer base despite the changing market landscape.

3 Major Challenges in the 90s

The gradual decline of the scooter market began around that time. With the liberalization in 1991 began the emergence of modern design/technology, especially in a few Japanese motorcycles.

  • A rise in petrol prices and the growing acceptance of motorcycles in rural areas also led to the demand for bikes.
  • Later on, Stricter emission norms introduced in the late 1990s and early 2000s posed further challenges for the Chetak, which was initially designed with less stringent standards in mind.
  • A rise in petrol prices and the growing acceptance of motorcycles in rural areas also led to the demand for bikes.

But each of these challenges made the brand Chetak, stronger than ever, and Bajaj always found solutions in innovation and agility, something that brands today can learn from.

Facing intense competition and changing market preferences, Bajaj Auto eventually phased out the Chetak in 2005 to focus on motorcycles and later, reintroduced it as an electric scooter in 2019.

3 Things That Made Chetak Dominate the Market

  • Understanding Market Needs: Bajaj regularly introduced newer models with refined engines and features, customised to changing Indian conditions, proving its deep understanding of the Indian consumer’s needs and preferences.
  • Brand Positioning: Right Value propositioning and price bands created lasting loyalty, even amidst stiff competition.
  • Adaptability to Change: The brand never shied away from change and in time transitioned to electric scooters, keeping up pace with changing market needs.
Subscribe to Beyond Newsletter

Subscribe to receive the latest Newsletter right to your inbox every week.

By subscribing you agree to with our Privacy Policy.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Join professionals going Beyond on our Weekly news brief.

Get access to growth hacks, expert interviews, and evidence-backed advice every week, Exclusive Downloadable Templates and Data Bases.

By clicking Sign Up you're confirming that you agree with our Terms and Conditions.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.