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‘We are all set to go 100% localized by the end of this fiscal year’

Our Bureau Bengaluru | Updated on September 08, 2021

Jeetender Sharma, MD and Founder, Okinawa Autotech

Okinawa MD Jeetender Sharma says the firm has been at the forefront of mass penetration of 2W EVs in India

FAME II incentives and rising fuel price have accelerated the demand for electric two-wheelers in the country. This has resulted in sharp growth in sales across the sector, including Okinawa Autotech, which claims to be growing at the rate of 35-40 per cent this year in terms of electric vehicles sales.

The company reported a 30 per cent increase in sales in the last quarter between Jan-Mar 2021. Further, Okinawa has seen about a three-fold increasein prospective customers for different scooters models in the local showrooms across India. This growth in the segment has also been complemented by the entry of new players like Ola Electric and Simple Energy. BusinessLine spoke to Jeetender Sharma, MD and Founder, Okinawa Autotech about the company’s roadmap to tackle the growing competition.

Has your company received an ARAI certificate? Your company has been listed in a court case claiming that while electric two-wheeler manufacturers have got an exemption from ARAI regulations claiming that their speed limit is below 25 kms, while actually, it is higher than that resulting in a lesser number of kms per charge. What is the status of the court case filed in a Bengaluru court?

Yes, we have the ARAI certification. Our portfolio consists of various models and the range declared to ARAI varies from one model to the other. The case being referred here has been filed collectively against all the original equipment manufacturers. Currently, it is sub-judice and hence, we would not be able to comment on it.

With some of the biggest names in the country launching their electric two-wheelers, how do you expect the competition to pan out for smaller players, for instance, Ola is planning a 2 million unit by June this year?

The electric vehicle market in India is expected to hit over 63 lakh unit mark per annum by 2027, according to a report by India Energy Storage Alliance (IESA). This shows the massive potential of a largely untapped market. Even the two-wheeler segment has an annual production capability of 21 million units and currently, merely 1 percent of it is being utilized. Therefore, the entry of any new player, including Ola, is not a threat. We rather feel that the entry of a well-known brand will help in creating more awareness about the benefits of EVs, building the ecosystem.

We, at Okinawa, are all set to go 100% localized by the end of this fiscal year. We have been at the forefront of mass penetration of 2W EVs in India with a range of electric scooters to cater to the dynamic needs of customers. While the pandemic had an inevitable impact on the auto industry, resulting in lesser sales than anticipated, Okinawa has retained its position as the second most selling EV in India. While we clocked ₹155 crore in revenue in FY 2020-21, we aim to increase it by 300 percent in FY 2021-22.

How many vehicles do you plan to sell every year and at what price?

Last year, we sold 30,930 units. This year, our aim is to grow this figure by three times. As far as the price is concerned, it varies from one model to the other. Currently, we have six electric scooters in our portfolio and the price ranges between ₹50,000 to ₹1.14 lakh. These are a mix of Li-ion slow speed and Li-ion high-speed scooters. In the low-speed range, Okinawa Autotech offers three products including, Okinawa R30, Okinawa Lite, and Okinawa Dual. On the other hand, the three high-speed products are Okinawa Ridge+, Okinawa Praise Pro, and Okinawa iPraise+. This year, we are also planning to launch two more new high speed two-wheelers.

How do you plan to source Lithium-Ion batteries every year? Competition is planning to manufacture them here itself.

We have a robust supply chain in place to procure all the necessary equipment. We work with dedicated and reliable suppliers to ensure steady supply of Lithium Ion cells for our manufacturing. This helps us to focus on core manufacturing and other key operations. However, in the longer run, we may also plan to manufacture these cells in India.

There are manufacturers who are planning to offer removable batteries? What are benefits and drawbacks of having such batteries? Won’t such batteries be prone to electric fires?

We offer removable batteries in all our models. In fact, we were one of the first EV manufacturers in India to offer the same. The most important benefit is the convenience of plug and use these batteries anywhere, anytime. There are no major drawbacks that are specific to removable batteries.

Charging equipment is a major challenge for electric two wheeler makers. How do you plan to overcome it?

Based on empirical data and our industry experience, we have no evidence of any challenges around charging equipment for electric two-wheelers. This equipment just needs a regular electric power point at home or anywhere else where people would like to charge their vehicle. Moreover, as seen with any consumer technology innovation, we can expect EV charging equipment to improve further and become more universally adaptable by consumers.

Published on September 07, 2021

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