A roll is already underway in India’s nascent but growing electric scooter market. Not only is the segment seeing healthy 10% month-over-month growth—in June, the eight players currently in the field together sold 38,693 units, compared to 35,212 units sold in May—the pecking order -even is in a state of flux.
In June, Okinawa Autotech topped sales, beating better-known names like Hero Electric and Ola Electric in monthly electric scooter sales. In fact, Ampere Vehicles placed second to Hero and Ola. Okinawa, which was launched in 2015, is optimistic and plans to expand its operations, with an investment of Rs 1,200-1,500 crore, including setting up a “mega factory” in Rajasthan.
“This mega factory will span 30 acres of land and provide employment for over 5,000 people,” said Jeetender Sharma, Founder and Managing Director of Okinawa Autotech. The new factory will have an in-house automatic robotic battery manufacturing unit as well as a motor and controller factory. The factory will be fully operational from October 2023. There will be robotic automation of plastic body parts molding and a paint shop to facilitate localization in the production process, Sharma adds.
Going forward, manufacturing of the entire range of scooters and motorcycles will be done through a joint venture with Italian electric vehicle manufacturer Tacita. All units will now be serviced from the new plant.
“As the market leader in the electric two-wheeler segment, we are committed to solving the most important issues facing the industry. The research and development facilities planned in the mega factory will be futuristic to ensure we meet future industry demand,” says Sharma.
What has fueled the company’s growth? Okinawa launched its first product in India in 2017. To date, over 200,000 products are in circulation across India. “Sales from May to June demonstrate our commitment to making products that change the entire perception of electric two-wheelers in the industry. We have a defined customer-centric approach, which is focused on delivering excellent customer experience, whether in terms of our extensive dealer network or providing roadside assistance, EMI options, app connectivity, and more,” Sharma says confidently.
“We aim to continue our growth with strong vigor through our world-class manufacturing facilities which have state-of-the-art technology and a comprehensive electric two-wheeler ecosystem in the country,” he added. .
The company will now have three manufacturing plants in Rajasthan. The first facility has a production capacity of 90,000 units per year, while it is 300,000 units per year for the second facility, which began operations earlier this year in February. The third factory is expected to be the largest fully integrated electric two-wheeler factory ever in India. According to the JV with Tacita which has two product lines, scooters and motorcycles, both aimed at domestic and international markets, the manufacturing of the entire line will be rolled out from the third factory, Sharma informs.
What about the rest of the current fiscal year? “We are moving forward with an aggressive investment plan and seek to make the most of the growing demand for electric two-wheelers in India. We will invest Rs 1,200 crore to Rs 1,500 crore over the next two years , including 1,000 crore in the joint venture with Tacita,” says Sharma.
The JV’s first model will include a high-end performance motorcycle to be rolled out in 2023. Sharma says Okinawa Autotech will showcase the Okhi-100 electric motorcycle, one of the products it is working on under the JV with Tacita. “It will roll out either late in FY22 or early in FY23. In my view, five years from now, electric scooters will be 20% of the ICE scooter market. The overall market in 2025 will be around 26 million. scooters, five million of which will be electric scooters,” he adds.
Has there been a dip in customer enthusiasm following the recent e-scooter and battery-related fires? How has the company responded to customer concerns? “We saw no impact or decline in consumer confidence as the company took strong action to address customer concerns first,” Sharma says. He points out that the May and June sales demonstrate the company’s commitment to creating products that change the whole perception of electric two-wheelers for customers.
What about security measures? “As a responsible brand, we have implemented several service campaigns like Mileage Ka Maharaja and Power Pack Checkup Camps to educate and educate our customers about owning and maintaining electric two-wheelers,” adds- he.
The company, according to Sharma, is stepping up its efforts to educate customers about caring for their vehicles and batteries. “We inform customers that electric vehicles need periodic maintenance and maintenance.” After all, safety comes first!