Bajaj PTV: Story behind what could have been India’s cheapest car

Budget mobility or affordable cars for common man has been a dream for many manufacturers around the world. Many of them have tried coming up with such products but, due to various reasons none of them ever became a commercial success. In India, we had Tata Nano which was marketed as world’s cheapest car an even that did not do well in the market. Even before Tata Nano, we had a manufacturer who came up with a solution for affordable car. The manufacturer was Bajaj and they launched PTV back in the 80’s. Here we have a video explaining the story behind Bajaj PTV.

The video has been uploaded by Talking Cars on their YouTube channel. In the 80’s manufacturers around the world were trying to come up with an affordable mobility solution. In India rules and regulation and getting a license to manufacture a car was quite a task in itself. We had manufacturers like Fiat, Padmini, Standard and HM in the market.

Bajaj at that point only had license to manufacture two and three wheelers. So they came up with a small car project that was actually not a car. They developed a three wheeled affordable car which is known as PTV or Personal Transport Vehicle. Bajaj PTV was actually based on an auto-rickshaw. It had a 150-cc engine from an auto-rickshaw placed at the rear. It was also the first rear engine three wheeler from Bajaj.

Bajaj PTV: Story behind what could have been India’s cheapest car

They made some changes to the chassis of the Bajaj auto-rickshaw to make it look like a car. The floor was lowered and the front fascia was completely changed. The car gets a squarish or boxy design to make it look like a car. It had two round headlamps with turn indicators on the fender.

Just like an auto-rickshaw it has one wheel at the front and two at the rear. Instead of a handle bar, Bajaj gave it a steering wheel to make it look more like a car. It has bench seats and it has front row seats only. From the rear, it looks just like an RE Bajaj auto-rickshaw.

In terms of features, Bajaj PTV gets nothing. It has sliding windows, hard top and a basic looking cabin. It won’t be wrong to call Bajaj PTV an ancestor of the Bajaj Qute which is a quadricycle. Just like many other affordable car projects, Bajaj PTV was also not commercially successful. One of the main reason was the time. Maruti launched 800 in early 80’s and that completely changed the motoring scenario in the country.

Bajaj only manufactured few PTVs and only few of them were sold. Most of them were bought by people from Pune which is home ground for Bajaj. The one seen here in the video is probably one of the well kept examples of Bajaj PTV in the country. Bajaj PTV was too crude and was marketed as a cheaper car in the market. That leaves a bad impact on the product and we have seen the same in the case of Tata Nano.