Okinawa Autotech has plans to expand beginning this year and will launch a high-speed electric scooter and a motorcycle, founder and Managing Director Jeetender Sharma told Business Today. Okinawa is further gearing up to be 100 per cent localised by the end of the fiscal year, as against 92 per cent now, Sharma said.
Unlike the perception, Okinawa is, clarified the MD, a “made-in-India and made-for-India” company. The electric two-wheeler manufacturer only found its inspiration in Japan. The rest is history and Indian. Sharma, who started the company in Gurugram in 2015, visited Okinawa in Japan where, he said, people have a long lifespan, believed to be due to zero pollution.
Sharma was inspired to bring all he had seen back to his country and contribute to a greener environment. That is how the company -- and its name -- came to be as a nod to the Japanese prefecture. While it had forayed into the market some five years ago, with a little push from the government, Sharma is now determined to bring EV to every common man in India.
“There are a lot of benefits from the government side, but also a lot depends on demand and supply,” said Sharma talking about plans of expansion. He said increasing demand, as well as government schemes, will be very beneficial to EV companies. “We are also planning for expansion. This year we are coming out with a high-speed scooter and a motorcycle,” he said.
Demand for EV two-wheelers, Sharma said, has increased by 30 per cent from the previous year. That has not only benefited Okinawa but also the EV two-wheeler market. Okinawa has a capacity of 1 lakh vehicles per year and, this too is in the process of expansion. “Planning to increase it to 2 lakh and eventually 1 million a year,” he said.
The increase in demand comes on the back of changed perception. He explained that earlier consumers had a perception that EVs are costly but with incentives and on-road running rates, EVs are as good as internal combustion (IC) vehicles, he said.
Consumers need to spend 15-16 paise per km for EVs while it is Rs 2 for IC vehicles, Sharma said. Now, with so many benefits and high demand, the market has opened up to deep-pocketed competitors. But Sharma is not perturbed. “If competition comes, it is good for us too. The market size is so big that there is no competition it can accommodate everyone. There is no competition right now, at least,” he said.
Additionally, he is confident of Okinawa’s catalogue that focuses on family products. He is also banking on his experience in the EV market.
“People can choose according to their pocket and according to their requirements. If you see, in the Indian market, the two-wheeler segment is always preferred by the lower middle and middle-class sections. For the last four-five years, we have understood the market and understood the needs of the consumer. Our focus is quality products, and the benchmark is always good quality and low cost,” he added.
Okinawa also especially keeps women riders in mind. For instance, Okinawa Lite, which offers push start, pillion footrest, digital speedometer and auto handle lock, is well suited for women riders as it is comfortable and sleek, said Sharma.
But it is not only the cost and the hype — people are not only interested in EVs due to a sense of social responsibility. “Now, due to social media, people understand and have become more aware of social responsibilities, and keep in mind rising pollution,” he added.
Considering everything, Sharma said, it is a good time for the EV industry.
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