As the markets recover from the disruptions caused by COVID-19 pandemic, people will likely switch towards personal mobility for safety reasons
EV manufacturers, especially two and three wheeler segments, are sure demand will surge as the country recovers due to the current crisis. Together with government support, this positivity is well founded. As manufacturers gear up to push sales in the electric scooter segment, more innovation is expected from across the ecosystem to support its customers. We had a chat with Jeetender Sharma, MD & Founder of Okinawa Scooters, who shares his optimism towards electric mobility.
ATR_As the COVID-19 crisis keeps disrupting businesses and adversely affect the purchasing power of the general populous, do you think EV segment is to gain or lose through this crisis? How the disruption of component supply effect Okinawa manufacturing?
Jeetender Sharma_COVID-19 has not just impacted the EV market but industries all across. Certainly, EV players that are importing parts or CKD units from China will face challenges. However, we at Okinawa offer over 88 percent localisation meaning it is not really a challenge for us at the company. Also, once lockdown is lifted and things are back to normal, individuals would prefer to have their own vehicles for safety reasons. This is expected to boost EV sales in the market.
ATR_How will the current requirement of ‘social distancing’ effect on buyer decisions? Has Okinawa formulated new strategies to market its products in innovative ways? Are there new finance schemes or payment plan offering to attract customers to ditch offers from IC engine vehicles?
Jeetender Sharma _Currently, we have accelerated our marketing strategy and dealership expansion. Recently we hiked dealer margins to boost optimism. We also launched product sales through our new website, hence going online.
ATR_Okinawa will be launching the new Oki100 electric bike later this year which will be 100 percent localized product except for the battery cells. Can you shed some light on it?
Jeetender Sharma_We will share the technology part once we will launch it but right now we can say it is very much comparable to its engine counterparts because of the speed and range. Speed is going to be 100kmph and the range will be 180 km.
ATR_What kind of dealer expansion plans is the company looking at now? Has it become difficult/easy to convince dealers to focus on more EVs than ICE two-wheelers inventory?
Jeetender Sharma_We are working on expanding our dealership network rigorously. We are currently at 350+ dealers and we plan to take it up to 550+ by FY end. It does require some convincing but not as much as it used to be a couple of years back. People are aware of the whole ecosystem in terms of government subsidies and support, Customer perception, Localization of raw material, etc. which is emerging for electric vehicles. Hence they know if they invest now they will reap the benefits later.