Mumbai: The largest electric scooter-maker Okinawa Autotech is setting up a plant to manufacture motors and controls for its scooters at its upcoming 5-lakh units per annum plant at Alwar in Rajasthan which is scheduled for commissioning late next month or early June. Surprisingly, leading electric two-wheeler makers are on a massive expansion spree despite the abysmal volumes and low capacity utilization.
For instance, Gurugram-based Okinawa that leads the EV scooters space, closely followed by Hero Electric from HeroMoto Corp, is adding almost six-times more capacity and so is the Hosur-based Ather Energy, in spite of the fact that they are using only one-third of their capacity now.
Ampere and Ather come at distant third and fourth slot when it comes to volumes.
The move makes Okinawa the first electric two-wheeler maker to have own assembly line for motors and controls, the two key components in an EV after the battery, which it is already manufacturing at its Bhiwadi plant, said Jeetender Sharma, founder & managing director of Okinawa which has sold over 75,000 e-scooters so far since launch in 2015, and has a portfolio of six models.
“We’re setting up a motor and control manufacturing unit at our upcoming facility in Alwar at an investment of around Rs 70 crore. This will make us the first and the only EV two-wheeler manufacturer to have own motor and control unit in the country,” Sharma told .
He said with own motors and controls, its localisation will be near 100 per cent as already its local sourcing is over 92 per cent.
Okinawa, named after the eponymous Japanese city known for its very high life expectancy of 100-plus, has a portfolio of six electric scooters priced at Rs 50,000-1.14 lakh. Its slow-speed models are Okinawa R30, Okinawa Lite, and Okinawa Dual and the high-speed ones are Okinawa Ridge+, Okinawa PraisePro, and Okinawa iPraise+.
These scooters offer 25-65 km speed and a range of 65-140 km per charging. Of the six, the best selling model are the PraisePro & Lite.
He said the Rs 200-crore new plant in Alwar will have an annual capacity of 5 lakh units when fully built, and the first phase, ready for opening by late May or early June, can roll out around 3 lakh units.
Unlike most other EV makers, Okinawa does not have an investor either foreign or local nor Sharma is looking at getting one for the time being. So far, Sharma has invested around Rs 125 crore in the company and the ongoing investment is also self-funded.
Sharma said the current plant at Bhiwadi can roll out 90,000 units a year in two shifts, but is running only one shift now, he said, adding in the year to March, they’ve sold 32,000 scooters, up from 31,000 units in FY20.
Sharma, who was part of the launch team of Honda Scooters & Motorcycles India and spent 15 years with the company, also said the new plant will need a manpower of around 300, which will take its total headcount to 500.
Asked about the market share, he said they are No 1 in high-speed scooters, having sold 10,800 units of PraisePro last year, giving it 36 per cent market share. The scooter is priced at Rs 79,000.
He also said that in two years, they will have at least two bikes, and the first bike will be rolled out by the end of this financial year as Oki 100.
Sharma is expecting to sell at least 1 lakh units this fiscal, for which he is also nearly doubling the dealership count to 500 by adding 200 more, most of which will be small towns.