/ 23 March 2024

Quite the ‘Qute’ way to commute

Bajaj Qute 1 Min
The Bajaj Qute, with an 216.6cc engine that generates 9.9kW and 19.6Nm, makes a great delivery vehicle and is safer than a bike with a similar motor.

Over the past year, there has been a spike in tiny yellow taxis in the northern suburbs of Johannesburg. The presence and prevalence of these comically styled cars has left me and many others wondering.

The Bajaj Qute is the car in question and “Qute”, pronounced “cute”, isn’t necessarily the word I would use to describe it. 

It’s a tiny motorcar, which resembles a four-wheeled bike. It boasts a 216.6cc engine that generates a cutesy 9.9kW and 19.6Nm. 

Furthermore, it sheepishly boasts a fuel tank size of eight litres and a weight of 449kg. 

These stats are hardly impressive but part of what makes this reinterpretation of the Kei car so popular is the price. At R94 800 the Bajaj Qute is the most affordable new car in South Africa by a significant margin.

The price might be appealing but it doesn’t explain the rapid flood of these automobiles in Johannesburg’s northern suburbs. There aren’t many elsewhere in South Africa — not even in other parts of Gauteng. 

After digging into this peculiar phenomenon, I initially believed that the brand Moove, which helps people finance vehicles, was behind this moovement. 

Moove is known for providing easy options for those looking to make money on the roads. However, it is yet to add the Qute to its fleet in SA. 

After more research, it seems the Qute takeover is most probably down to familiar mobility app, Bolt.

You might know it as a slightly cheaper alternative to Uber but the brand offers more than the occasional taxi ride. 

Bolt is a huge international corporation that operates in more than 100 countries, offering the chance to earn extra cash and to get around. 

So, what does this global brand have to do with the sudden increase in these little yellow cars? 

First, their last-mile e-hailing service might be the cause of the proliferation of Bajajs. 

Bolt has started working on a project with an emphasis on Johannesburg’s northern suburbs. 

It is called Bolt Send and, like its Uber competitor, it allows customers to send packages from one location to another. The tool used for the job is, you guessed it, the Bajaj Qute. 

The project, which started last year, has become increasingly popular. 

Cargo Min
The Bajaj Qute is being used in a new delivery project in Joburg’s northern suburbs initiated by mobility app Bolt.

Considering that the Bajaj has a much larger storage capacity than a motorbike with a similar engine, it makes sense to use this inexpensive vehicle in terms of consumption and price. 

If you are not familiar with the Bajaj, and have only noticed a couple of these odd little cars around town, well, there is a chance Bolt Send might be coming to your area soon. 

If Bolt decides to expand this project around the country, the northern suburbs will be ground zero for this Bajaj takeover. 

Fear not, though, with a top speed of 60km/h, they shouldn’t be clogging up the highways. 

It’s encouraging to see brands invest in making mobility more affordable and safer, while creating employment opportunities. 

Furthermore, it enables drivers to switch from bikes to something of a car-bike crossover. 

I have witnessed my fair share of crashes involving delivery bikers trying to meet their quotas. The Bajaj Qute, despite not being the best car on the road, does offer a cost-effective and relatively safe option for delivery drivers, particularly on South Africa’s dangerous streets. 

So, in case you were wondering about the sudden influx of Bajajs in Fourways and surrounding areas, now you know.

Your next parcel could be arriving in something rather Qute — and very yellow.