EV Duniya’s Founder and CEO, Mr. Arjun Pawar had a candid conversation with Mr. Jeetender Sharma, the Founder and Managing Director of Okinawa Scooters. During the conversation, Mr. Jeetender put forward his views on various aspects like:
- Factors impacting the EV industry
- Future of electric two wheelers post lockdown
- Okinawa’s plans and their commitment towards Atmanirbhar Bharat and Make in India initiatives
Interview with Mr. Jeetender Sharma, Founder and Managing Director of Okinawa Scooters
Read along to understand his views.
Arjun: To start with the interview, I would like to ask about your approach towards the Make in India initiative. Also, can you brief us about your localization strategy and how you plan to provide more jobs to Indian people in the manufacturing sector?
Jeetender: As you might be already aware, Okinawa is a 100% Indian company. We launched our first electric scooter back in 2017. Although the company was founded in 2015, it took us 2 years in the research and development of our prototype, test the vehicle and then finally launch it.
Right from the launch of our first scooter, our main focus has always been Make in India as our customer base is Indians. I believe that to be able to build trust and confidence among the Indian buyers, especially when it comes to electric vehicles, we should majorly focus on parts manufactured in India.
In the past, we have seen quite a few low performances of electric vehicles being sold in India. The companies imported all the parts from other countries, just assembled them here and sold them to the customers.
This is where we wanted to be different and started with the Make in India mindset. We started getting all the parts that were manufactured locally. And finally, when the government launched the FAME 2 scheme in 2019, Okinawa was the first company to get approval owing to two major factors:
- Around 90% of the parts we were using were local
- The performance of our vehicles is extremely good and this has been certified by government agencies like ARAI and ICAT
So this is the way we approach forward towards the Make in India initiative. As a company, we always feel that if we have our products made from local parts, we have a better policy to control the quality of parts from our suppliers.
Our primary focus is always on QCD – Quality, Cost, and Delivery. We aim to have a high-quality product at a reasonable cost to the consumer.
If you have local parts, you can easily manage your suppliers depending on the regions. At Okinawa, we are working our best towards the vision of Atmanirbhar Bharat and Vocal for Local.
Arjun: Considering the current Covid19 situation, it has had a major impact on most of the industries. So what are your views on how Covid19 has impacted the Automobile sector, especially the EV sector?
Jeetender: Due to Covid19, not only India but almost the entire world has been in lockdown for around 3 months. So it is understandable that there will be hardly any vehicle deliveries in this quarter. But now that the lockdown is slowly getting lifted, things will start getting back to normal.
In my opinion, the lockdown owing to Covid19 has brought a change in the way people think. We are seeing pollution levels drop to record low and people are starting to appreciate nature more. They are realizing the adverse impact of pollution.
This realization will bring a change in the way people see Electric Vehicles as the basis of these vehicles is green technology. As such, people will start giving preference to EVs and the government push for the adoption of EVs will only help the cause.
Post Covid19, we will see a huge demand in the two-wheelers sector. I say this because, in order to maintain social distancing, people will start avoiding public mobility and will prefer having their own vehicles.
The thing that will favor electric vehicles is that after the implementation of BS6, the cost of Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicles has shot up drastically. And as we know, the day to day cost of running an Electric vehicle is 1/10th of the cost of running an ICE vehicle. All these factors combined together will generate a huge demand for electric two-wheelers.
So as a company, we strongly believe that the future of electric vehicles is bright.
Arjun: As you mentioned, the demand for Electric Vehicles is going to increase. During this lockdown, have you seen any impact on the supply chain or delivery?
Jeetender: As I said earlier, the lockdown has had an impact on everyone and we are no different. Our manufacturing unit was completely shut for some time as per government directives. Then as things eased a bit, we started our unit at 25% capacity, then increased it to 50% and have now resumed at 100% a few days ago, all while complying with government guidelines.
On similar lines, our suppliers have also been affected.
Arjun: As you mentioned, there will be an increase in demand for electric two wheelers. So do you foresee any fluctuations in the prices of these vehicles in the near future?
Jeetender: I think there will be no changes in the prices. As far as Okinawa is concerned, we will not be increasing our prices as we do not want to have any impact on our customers. We want the price to be fair keeping in mind both our customers as well as our dealers.
Arjun: Okinawa already has a wide range of Electric scooters, around 6-8 models with different features and prices ranging from INR 50,000 to INR 1,00,000. Do you plan to launch any new model in the near future?
Jeetender: We will soon be launching our motorcycle – the Oki100. It will be launched sometime later this year.
Arjun: What will be the USP or major features of the Oki100?
Jeetender: The Oki100 is quite special for us. The features I would like to highlight are:
- Its top speed is 100 km/h or more.
- The vehicle offers a range of 150 km in a single charge.
When we talk about its power and performance, the bike is comparable to a 150 CC Internal Combustion Engine bike. Add to it the stylish looks and you will understand what sets it apart from the competition.
Arjun: I have heard that a customer can make customizations to their Okinawa scooter? So what sort of customizations do you offer?
Jeetender: Well, we offer the choice of color and theme for the scooter to our customers. If you see on our website, we have around 4 theme options that our customers can choose from and a professional artist does the artwork by hand. We use high-quality colors on the vehicle. I believe this is a unique feature and no one in the industry offers this, be it for Electric vehicles or for ICE vehicles. This option is available on our entire range of scooters.
Arjun: Lastly, I would like to understand your distribution network. As of today, how many dealers do you have and what are your expansion plans?
Jeetender: As of today, we have around 350 dealers. Talking about expansion, we want to add more than 200 dealers to our network.
So to conclude, the interview with Mr. Jeetender was very insightful and shed light on how the Covid19 crisis will prove to be boon for the electric two wheelers sector.