Okinawa Autotech, one of India’s largest makers of electric scooters, has announced the launch of its plant — a sprawling manufacturing facility in Karoli, Rajasthan. Okinawa says the new facility will facilitate the creation of an entire EV ecosystem — taking strides in R&D, warehouses and supplier parks. Okinawa’s third plant will be spread across 30 acres and will provide employment to more than 5,000 people.
Okinawa has earmarked an investment of ₹500 crore for this facility, and expects it to be fully operational from October 2023. The facility is also expected to roll out 1 million units each year. “As the market leader in the electric two-wheeler segment, we are committed to addressing the most significant issues faced by the sector. The R&D facilities planned in the mega factory will be futuristic to ensure we meet the sector's demand ahead,” Jeetender Sharma, founder and MD, Okinawa Autotech, speaks on the development. Sharma also emphasises that the ‘mega factory’ will not solely focus on the manufacturing of vehicles. “It will also have a supplier park that will take account of motors, controllers, battery packs and other electrical parts meant to support the complete EV ecosystem,” he adds.
Last month, Okinawa inked an agreement to form a joint venture with Tacita, an Italian manufacturer of electric and performance motorcycles. The joint venture will be based in India and will begin production from 2023. This consists of two product lines — scooters and motorcycles — both meant for domestic as well as international markets. The manufacturing of the entire range will be rolled out from the upcoming plant, along with Okinawa’s second manufacturing facility in Rajasthan. “There is a steady and conscious shift in consumer preferences and we have witnessed a growing demand for premium and performance electric motorcycles in India. Tacita will help us in creating a marketplace that matches the demand for futuristic technology and products,” Sharma had remarked at the time.
Okinawa taking its manufacturing prowess up a notch comes when it vies for the pole position to become India’s largest maker of electric two-wheelers. It looks to capitalise on the window that has opened as Hero Electric, the incumbent, struggles to produce electric vehicles, retailing only 2,850 vehicles in May. However, Okinawa sees itself locked in a tussle with the new entrant Ola Electric. While Bhavish Aggarwal-led EV maker had emerged as the largest electric two-wheeler company in April, Okinawa narrowly pipped Ola Electric as the largest maker of electric two-wheelers in May — retailing 9,303 vehicles, whereas Ola Electric retailed 9,225 vehicles.
Industry observers believe that it all comes down to the manufacturing capacities. Ola Electric itself is erecting a ‘Future Factory’ over 100 acres and is expected to have a capacity of 10 million units every year. “Supply chain issues have decreased two-wheeler EV sales drastically from last month,” says Vinkesh Gulati, the president of the Federation of Automobile Dealers of India (FADA). Although Gulati also notes the recent incidents of electric scooters catching fire has dented the growth of sales, as it has created a fear in the mind of the consumer.