“This year OKINAWA is planning to go 100% localized in terms of components and raw materials”

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Established in 2015, Okinawa Autotech is one of India’s largest Electric 2-Wheeler manufacturers. Aiming to put India on the global EV map with its revolutionary products, Okinawa Autotech is the first Indian company to get a FAME II subsidy from the Government of India.

Jeetender Sharma, MD & Founder, Okinawa Autotech, interacts to The EV Times & share OKINAWA’s growth story..

OKINAWA has emerged as a leading brand in the 2 wheeler segment. Can you briefly explain to us about your success story & milestones in Indian market?

At Okinawa, our key values are quality, cost effectiveness, and appreciation. These values reflect through our entire value chain, even as we scale up with high focus on localization. As of now, about

92% components in our electric vehicles (EVs) are Made-in-India. It has a simple rationale that a robust local supply chain, coupled with our industry expertise, helps us ensure better control on the product quality, as well as key financial metrics. It also keeps us safe from volatility in the global supply chain networks, as seen last year. Thus, we are able to offer a very competitive price to our customers.

The inception of Okinawa Autotech happened during my trip to Okinawa Island in Japan. The trip to Okinawa Islands is what inspired me to look at manufacturing Electric Vehicles.The people at Okinawa Islands in japan are said to have the longest lifespan in the world as the pollution level there is close to zero. When I started Okinawa Autotech, I had a vision of creating a healthy environment which is free from pollution and will improve the life expectancy of people. Hence, the dream turned into reality and Okinawa Autotech was born with the sole vision of creating a healthy environment where people’s life expectancy can improve. We founded Okinawa in 2015, however, during the initial two years of the company, we went to different parts of India to research and take people’s opinions on electric vehicles and collected data. After thorough research, we launched our first product in 2017 and now, in a small period of span, we have more than 90,000 electric scooters running on the road. My mantra has always been about being passionate, dedicated, and speedy. I believe that every entrepreneur should be passionate to dedicatedly and promptly work towards a one-focused target.

In such a short span of time, Okinawa has been ranked number 2 pan India in the EV ecosystem. With more than 90,000 + scooters on road, and even when covid-19 hit us with the rest of the electric vehicle ecosystem, we sold 30,930 units in FY 21. Talking about the revenue, we clocked annual growth of INR 155Cr. in FY 2021 with the aim to increase this by 300% in FY 2022. We believe to achieve this target with strong innovation, ecosystem, geographical expansion, and rising awareness about opting for e-vehicles in the country.

It is very important to understand whether the Indian Auto Manufacturers are actually ready to face the competition given by the foreign products made with high precision technology? How OKINAWA is a true name for “Make in India” drive.

Yes, of late, there are a lot of new entrants in the EV space. However, we are certain to stay on the top with our product excellence and futuristic approach. We constantly innovate and bring out variations that the customer wants. There is enough space for everyone to empower the ecosystem as with healthy competition, you work even harder to provide the best. Moreover, we are here not just to sell products but to build relationships for a lifetime. We constantly keep in touch with our customers asking them for feedback and providing the best after-sales service. Even without a legacy, we have reached the topof the segment with our dedication and honest hard work. Okinawa plans to keep on growing and providing the best.

Okinawa believes in Make in India, hence around 92% of our components are from Indian Suppliers. We procure all the components and raw materials through our dedicated supply chain in India. With taking a step forward, this year, we are planning to go 100% localized in terms of components and raw materials

We at Okinawa follow the QCD model. It has three key pillars, i.e., Quality of vehicle, cost competence, and delivery/after-sales experience. When it comes to quality, our two wheelers are very much at par with internal combustion (IC) engines. We offer the most competitive prices, along with various retail finance options through our partners. Our  extensive service network makes sure that customers always have easy access to maintenance and other after sales services.

How has the pandemic pushed you to introspect and bring more operational efficiency into your business?

Covid-19 and the subsequent lockdown have not only affected the sales but the production and distribution too. We are making sure that the production is not hampered too much by this as we need to have Vehicle inventory. There is a lot of Online Vehicle booking along with offline (tele-

booking) taking place at the dealership. So once the lockdown is over, we will easily be able to meet the demand and supply.

As a business leader, what would be your growth mantra in the current situation?

Okinawa has successfully completed 5 years in the market and has emerged as one of the top two highest-selling electric two-wheeler brands in the country. We are amongst the most popular electric scooter manufacturers in India.

I believe this is all because we are true to our vision with the right focus. We are on a mission to drive the present towards a sustainable future and to further propel the Government’s Make in India Initiative. Okinawa Autotech is delivering smart, innovative, stylish, comfortable and energy-efficient vehicles

at affordable prices and raising awareness about opting for e-vehicles in the country. We started this year with a new product for B2B and B2C sectors- Okinawa Dual – ‘Service on Wheels’ by launching India’s first customizable B2B electric two-wheeler.

What are the major challenges & how does the future look like when it comes to the E-Two Wheelers business?

The major roadblock was about negative perception about EVs. Initially, people could only think of EVs as a second vehicle in the family. Battery performance was also a challenge in the early days. However, we have steadily switched from lead acid to lithium ion batteries. This means that the automobile opportunity is certainly growing, especially for the two-wheeler segment. Thus,

the stage is well set for EV two wheelers. We are already hearing a lot of positive conversations about EVs among consumers. Moreover, there is good support from the Government towards the sector. It is only a matter of educating the consumers about the distinct edge provided by EVs and they will start making an informed choice. At Okinawa, we are investing into several consumer and marketing communications campaigns to build awareness about the importance of EVs. There are similarly intended campaigns by the Center and various state Governments. So, we can see that the ecosystem is warming up to adopt EVs.

Moreover, we provide a three-year warranty on the battery as well as the ready product. This provides a huge sense of assurance to the consumers. The electric vehicle (EV) market in India is expected to go through an exponential growth cycle over the

next 5 years. This is due to many factors including the need for a futuristic transportation system that runs on clean energy, Government’s focus on local manufacturing, interest from traditional as well

as new age automobile manufacturers which is duly supported by investors, growth of charging infrastructure and so on. As per a joint report by KPMG in India and CII titled ‘Shifting gears: the evolving electric vehicle landscape in India’, the country is expected to have 25 to 35 per cent 2 wheeler EVs and 65 to 75 per cent 3 wheeler EVs by 2030.

Please share your experience about your Dealers Network in Pan India?

Okinawa with a widespread network of 300+ dealers pan India, Okinawa caters to not only metro cities

but goes beyond to reach Tier-2, Tier-3 and rural regions of the country. The company  is in the expansion phase, as a next step we are coming up with the new Manufacturing Facility in Rajasthan near the previous facility. We are also planning to expand our dealers’ network from 300 to 500 and then 1000 over the next3 years.

Recently, after the  announcement of Gujarat E policy 2021, the company also stepped forward to contribute for the  rapid EV adoption in the

State. Currently, Okinawa has a strong network of dealerships which it aims to expand  by 50% by the end of the current fiscal year in the state of Gujarat.

Please brief us about your Research & Development Team.

We have developed our own technology of IPR and our own Power Train for Motor, Controller and Lithium-Ion Battery BMS. At Okinawa, we ensure thorough R&D and engineering before finalizing any design. We have advanced manufacturing technologies like Robotic welding, Automatic CNC, automatic molding, and robotic paint shop. This contributes to the production of world-class products. We have dedicated suppliers who produce the components as per the Okinawa design. For quality control, we comply with the IATF requirements as we are an IATF certified company. The quality of each vehicle as a whole and its parts are checked to qualify the parameters of the IATF. We also make sure that the Okinawa suppliers must be ISO-9001, TS-16846, or IATF.

What do you expect from Govt or Association support in order to scale up the E-Two Wheeler business.

The Government of India has undertaken multiple initiatives to promote manufacturing and adoption

of electric vehicles in India and create awareness in the end users. The Go Electric campaign launched by the central government  paved the way for several states to come forward and develop policies that further encourage the end users to adopt EVs in their lives. As a result, we have recently seen multiple states including Delhi, Goa, Maharashtra & Gujarat announce their dedicated EV policies, which is a welcome step. We are encouraged to see that more Indian states are stepping up their efforts to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles across the country by developing new programs and designing effective policies.

Since the start of the year the central and various state governments remain committed to driving EV adoption and creating awareness of the benefitsof EVs. The state EV policies and the battery- vehicle registration policy have been critical steps that will drive growth for EVs. Further, policies like FAME II revision and the recently announced the scrappage policy, along with thrust on setting up

charging infra will be incremental on emission control and sustainable mobility. The country is already accelerating a shift towards local manufacturing,and building a strong indigenous EV value chain. Increasing investments and regulatory support will be noteworthy, to transform India into a manufacturing EV hub in this decade

However, the government should also work on creating more awareness among the end user through different activities such as group workshops conducted by the government bodies  and promoting the benefits of the electric vehicles  through media channels.

In the end, what is more important – Quality Product or Marketing?

Both are inter -related to each other. Whatsoever, quality products which a company manufactures also have to be marketed. Marketing is an essential part as it helps us reach the masses. At Okinawa, wehave made a quality product that will speak for itself, a smart, innovative, stylish, comfortable and energy- efficient vehicle at affordable prices.

The company aims to make it easy and well within the reach of every single person to possess Okinawa’s scooters. Okinawa is well known for its range of products and its after sales service for the end user. Hence, Quality defines how successful the product is and what customer base it has penetrated and  determines consumer loyalty and satisfaction for the brand. Therefore,  Longevity of a product is defined by quality and not marketing.

What message do you want to convey to our readers?

No matter where you plug in across the country, electric vehicles are cheaper to fuel than their gasoline-powered counterparts’.  Electric vehicles can also save you on maintenance costs as petrol nears Rs 100/liter, EVs running at one-tenth the running cost of EVs comes to Rs 1 per km, Rs 9 for petrol.

Okinawa is ahead of the curve in offering customers the convenience of charging at their homes, offices, and other convenient locations, removing the reliance on charging infrastructure. All Okinawa scooters are equipped with detachable lithium-ion batteries that can be charged using any standard electric switches. It’s as simple as charging a phone.

 

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