Okinawa Autotech, the country’s second largest electric two-wheeler manufacturer, is gearing up to meet the growing demand for e2Ws in the market, with commitments to launch new products this year as well as beef up production capacity.
Over the next two to three years, these initiatives would attract investments worth INR 400-500 crore.
The six-year-old EV maker has been on a high after leading the sales charts for high speed electric who-wheelers for the first time in December 2021. Speaking to Mobility Outlook, Jeetender Sharma, Founder and Managing Director, Okinawa Autotech said this is a ‘good time’ for the industry.
The second half of 2021 was particularly exciting for India’s electric vehicle industry, with sales scaling new heights month-on-month. In a first for the country, sale of high speed e2Ws crossed one lakh units cumulatively in the first 11 months of 2021. Two-thirds of that volume came from the stables of the top three e2W makers – Hero Electric, Okinawa Autotech and Ather Energy.
Sharma expects this momentum to continue in a market that is clearly reaping the benefits of the Central government's thrust on electric vehicles as well as the supportive policies by multiple state governments. While OEMs had to push sales until some time back, Sharma believes there is a pull now from the customers, and that is going to continue for many more years in the future.
“The disruption has already happened in the EV sector, and I think this is going to be sustainable for the long-term,” he said.
Large part of this disruption will be led by quality products that deliver on performance and quality. And Okinawa is committed to deliver on both these aspects, in addition to building and winning customer trust in its products.
“In my opinion, I think the e2W segment is going to be only for the high-speed products. I don’t think slow speed products are a sustainable model, because consumers shifting from ICEs would want a high speed product. Even in terms of performance, consumers would want a product that is of good quality at the right cost. They must have the performance that can match with IC engines,” Sharma said.
Buoyed by the experience of the past six years, and growing acceptance of electric two-wheelers in the country, Okinawa is now planning an aggressive ramp up in the coming years.
From a product perspective, a new high speed electric scooter will roll out of Okinawa’s facility in the current quarter. This will be followed by the company’s long-awaited electric motorcycle, the Oki100 in Q2 FY23.
The Oki100, in particular, is an exciting product for the company. The e-motorcycle has been in development for a few years, delayed further by the COVID pandemic. Calling the Oki100 a “fully power packed electric motorcycle”, Sharma likened it to any other 150 cc IC engine motorcycle. Powered by a 5/6 kW motor, Oki100 will have a top speed of 120 kmph and will deliver a range of over 200 km on a single charge of its detachable batteries, he confirmed.
“Okinawa was the first player in the market to offer a detachable battery. That is our USP – customers have the privilege and ease of charging these batteries at home, just like charging their mobile phones,” Sharma said.
Production Ramp Up
With anticipated growth over the next few years, Okinawa is also investing heavily in ramping up its production capacities.
While its existing plant in Bhiwadi can produce 90,000 scooters in a single shift, the company is building a new facility in close proximity of its existing facility, with production capacity of around 250,000-300,000 units every year. This would take its total production capacity to close to 400,000 units on an annual basis. With additional shifts, this can be increased manifold.
Further, Okinawa is planning to set up a mega facility with a capacity to produce one million vehicles a year. This facility, which will be set up in the northern part of India, will further push Okinawa’s localisation strategy and bring the complete ecosystem at one place. Most of its suppliers will set up shop in the vendor park along with Okinawa, building a sustainable model for everyone, said Sharma.
Construction of the mega factory is likely to begin in FY23, and will take at least one year to start production. Sharma expects production rollout in CY23.
Although that would give Okinawa a capacity to produce close to a million and half electric two-wheelers, Sharma believes that would still not be enough. By 2024-25, the Indian e2W market is expected to be in the range of five to seven million units of high speed EVs, and even with one million units a year, Okinawa would be able to cater to only one-fifth of the market.
“I don’t think a capacity of one million vehicles would be enough. In a total Indian market of more than 20 million two-wheelers, we are only talking about one-twentieth share for Okinawa. We are not asking too much from the market,” he said.
Okinawa is looking at localising all parts needed for its products henceforth. Sharma said his priority is to ‘Make in India, Made for India’. The infrastructure it is building is not just for Okinawa, but for the ecosystem to take advantage of. Other than the lithium-ion cells, the company is looking at localising all its parts in India by the end of the current fiscal.
Okinawa Autotech was the first EV maker to receive FAME 2 certification – 24 days after the government had notified the scheme. The aggressive push by the company – on products, network and capacity expansion – has helped it scale new heights. And with EV sales picking up a steady momentum in the market, Okinawa is now preparing to leverage that opportunity with a measured approach.