Haryana-based Okinawa Autotech has grown to become India’s second highest seller of electric scooters. Its latest product in India is the Okhi-90 and you can read all about the launch here. As with its previous scooters, the company is claiming that this has been designed and developed in-house, and, as with its previous scooters, we have found an identical product available for bulk purchase on Chinese e-commerce websites.
This time around, Okinawa has even dedicated a section of its product launch video (viewable on the company’s YouTube channel) to ‘the crafting of the Okhi 90’. In this section, the company claims that the product was seeded in January 2020, the design was rendered that March, clay modelling was completed by August, and then, the prototype was ready by March 2021, with endurance testing being completed by February 2022.
While industry insiders will recognise this as an unrealistically quick time frame to complete a new product from scratch, Okinawa is striving to create the image of this being a fully in-house development. In fact, the company responded to our email query stating, "It has been designed and manufactured in India." However, we have now found what appears to be an identical product from a Chinese company and it's called the Wuxi Shenyun SY-T500.
The similarities between the Okhi-90 and Wuxi Shenyun SY-T500 go down to the exact shape of the bodywork, the design of the wheels, the LED head and tail-lamps and even the chrome garnish all over the bodywork. Apart from the badges, the only difference we can see is that the press images from Okinawa show the scooter with different chromed mirrors. However, the scooters displayed at Okinawa’s launch event did not have these mirrors.
As we have reported before (see below), Okinawa appears to be following this business model for most of its products. To be perfectly clear, this is a business model that a vast majority of two-wheeler EVs sold in India follow, with Ather, Bajaj and TVS being a few notable exceptions. Ola Electric has also taken its own route by buying out Dutch start-up Etergo and then re-engineering the scooter for our market.
The reason this model is so popular is because all these emerging start-ups can approach an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) or an Original Design Manufacturer (OEDM) to do all the design and development work that would otherwise be an impossibly large expense. China is full of companies that sell these low cost products in bulk. The product spec is also often customisable to the buyer’s requirements, which is probably why the quoted spec on Wuxi Shenyun’s website is different to what is quoted by Okinawa.
The product then goes on sale in India with a certain level of localised components in order to meet the FAME-II subsidy. The significant difference between Okinawa and most other EV businesses doing the same thing is that Okinawa continues to openly claim that these products are its own.
Okinawa has reached out to us with the following statement: "Our flagship premium scooter, the OKHI-90, has been conceptualized and designed in India by our in-house R&D team in association with a world-class external design house to carry out various design activities and manufacture the moulds for us. We have invested over 1.8 years in developing the product, keeping in mind the needs of the modern Indian customer. The scooter is made in our new manufacturing facility in Bhiwadi, Rajasthan, in India, with top-notch infrastructure and machinery. Okinawa owns the patent for the design in India and is in the process of obtaining a global patent as well."