It’s World EV day and we had an opportunity to talk to Mr. Jeetender Sharma, Founder & MD, Okinawa Scooters, one of the leading electric vehicle brands in India.
Mr.Sharma shares his thoughts on the growing electric vehicle market and his vision for the Okinawa brand in India. Read on further, our interview.
GearFliQ: How were Okinawa Scooters formed? Is there any reason for the brand to choose a Japanese name?
Mr. Sharma: While I was working with Honda 2-wheelers, I had this opportunity to visit Okinawa Island in Japan. The fact that the majority of the people there go on to live longer lives, caught my attention. The reason behind this was that there is negligible air pollution there. The efforts of the people and the clean atmosphere inspired me to bring the same change in India. Hence, when I returned, I established Okinawa to introduce the concept of electric vehicles to Indian customers.
GearFliQ: What is the current product range being offered by Okinawa? What are your future plans for new products?
Mr. Sharma: Okinawa currently offers high-speed and low-speed e-scooters in lead acid as well as li-ion, detachable battery versions. The brand will soon be launching its first electric bike which would be a 100 percent ‘Made in India’ product.
GearFliQ: What is the percentage of localization in your products?
Mr. Sharma: Okinawa offers the highest percentage of localization in the electric two-wheeler industry in India. Currently, we offer a maximum of 88 percent localization. Soon our new offering, Oki100 – the electric bike will be in the market, which will be a complete ‘made in India’ product.
GearFliQ: Please share about your presence in the Indian market and expansion plans
Mr. Sharma: We are present across India with a strong network of dealerships. Currently, we have 350+ dealers in our network. We aim at expanding the same to 500+ dealers by the end of this fiscal.
GearFliQ: Which are your bestselling products so far?
Mr. Sharma: PraisePro and Ridge + are our best selling products currently.
GearFliQ: What are your upcoming plans for the brand?
Mr. Sharma: At Okinawa, we are on an aggressive expansion spree. The idea of e-mobility needs to be shared at all levels in India. To enable this, a strong network of local dealers in required. Apart from this, we have our first electric bike – Oki100 in the pipeline which will be launched this year in the festive season. In terms of capacity and manufacturing, we will be establishing a new facility in Rajasthan soon.
GearFliQ: How are you dealing with the COVID-19 situation? Have you made any changes to the procedures?
Mr. Sharma: To deal with COVID-19 in terms of safety, we issued an advisory to all our dealerships. They maintain safety measures in terms of sanitization, distancing, and minimum workforce. While retailing we ensure that all the products are sanitized at the assembly and at the dealership both. All the operations are always in line with government guidelines and norms.
GearFliQ: How has the response been post lockdown lift? Is the situation getting better in the market?
Mr. Sharma: At Okinawa, we received an overwhelming response post lockdown lift. Within a month of the lift, we retailed over 1000 units. Our observation tells us that people are opting for their own vehicles now due to COVID-19 and are happily trying electric vehicles.
GearFliQ: What are the technological strengths of the brand
Mr. Sharma: Our scooters are equipped with indigenously developed IPs like a detachable lithium-ion battery, microprocessor controller, permanent magnet BLDC motor along with several world-class features like mobile charging, keyless start, app connectivity, etc.
GearFliQ: What is your opinion on India’s strength in the EV market and its potential
Mr. Sharma: In India, there is an alarming need to make this shift from ICE to EV. The situation has been understood by the manufacturers also and everybody is making their effort to offer products that are at par with their ICE counterparts. Once this concept is accepted, it will revive the entire auto market and the demand will be on an upswing because EV is economically viable to the users also.
Okinawa has been one of the pioneers in EVs in India. We at GearFliQ wish them the best for the times to come and hope to see some exciting new products as well.