Okinawa Oki100 electric motorcycle launch pushed to Diwali caught up with Jeetender Sharma – Founder & MD, Okinawa Scooters to learn about how the company is coping with the Coronavirus lockdown. Sharma last spoke to EVW at the Auto Expo where the company, which has sold over 60,000 electric scooters in India, unveiled the ‘Cruiser’ with a maxiscooter-like design.

Okinawa earlier has announced that all of its employees will be given paid leave during the lockdown and now the dealer margins have been hiked. How has the response been to these announcements?

Jeetender Sharma: We are a family and we will support them. That is our company retention policy. Everybody knows that the lockdown has affected the economy and some dealers have their dealerships on a rental basis; they have to pay the rent and salaries to their staff. This is one way we can support our dealers and they are happy with that. At least they can recover some of the cost that they would have lost in the last one and half to two months with higher margins.

Paid leave for employees of the company will be continued during the lockdown and as I told you they are a part of the family and we will continue to support them.

[In a bid to show its support for the dealerships in the current lockdown situation, Okinawa has announced that it has increased the dealer margin from 8 per cent to 11 per cent per sale, effective from 27th April 2020. Through the hiked margins, dealers will be able to add up to Rs 2,000 more in profit per vehicle.]

What would be the effect of the COVID-19 on the electric vehicle market of India?

Jeetender Sharma: If you ask me the positive effect, it promises to be optimistic once the lockdown, which has been announced till May 3, is over. If you see at this moment of time, pollution levels have reduced drastically. After the lockdown is over, the government is also asking to maintain social distancing and take other precautionary measures. Of course, people have to commute and maybe in some areas, the public transport won’t be available. So they have to opt for other ways to commute and I think they will go for two-wheelers, as in India everyone cannot afford a four-wheeler.

And if you see, electric two-wheelers only need one-tenth of the running cost when compared to the regular two-wheelers. So that is one of the best alternatives for the public. So I think in the future the overall market of two-wheelers will grow.

Fortunately, we are a Make-in-India company and we don’t have any issues as our supplier base is here. But some companies import parts from other countries and they may face delays in sourcing parts.

Okinawa OKI100 Prototype
The Okinawa Oki100 electric motorcycle would be different to concept (pictured) showcased in 2018. Sharma told EVW that the size of the production model would be comparable to a conventional motorcycle.

Okinawa had planned to expand its dealership network to 600 touchpoints by the end of 2020. How is this plan impacted?

Jeetender Sharma: Our people are working from home and connecting with prospective customers who are interested in our dealerships. Our dealer development team is working on it and whatever we have planned we will achieve it.

Lastly what are the launch plans for Okinawa Cruiser scooter and Oki100 motorcycle?

Jeetender Sharma: Okinawa Cruiser, which we showcased at the Auto Expo 2020, will be launched in the fourth quarter of FY 2020-21 and the Oki100 electric motorcycle will be launched by Diwali this year.