Okinawa is an Indian company that was set up in 2015 and is headquartered in Gurgaon with a manufacturing plant in Bhiwadi, Rajasthan. Until now, the company has been selling its first and only product, an electric scooter called the Ridge, which we found to be one of the most realistic and ‘normal-feeling’ e-scooters on sale in India.
Now the company has taken the wraps off its second product, a more powerful e-scooter called the Praise, which promises impressively realistic performance, including a top speed of 75kph and a possible range of 170-200km. You can read more about the Praise here, but instead of going into much detail of what it has to offer, we'll take a look at the roots of the Praise as a domestic product.
Okinawa categorically states that the Praise is a complete in-house project, with “Complete vehicle design and component design by Okinawa, including a Li-ion battery for which Okinawa applied for a patent”. Interestingly, however, we have come across a near-identical scooter that's already on sale from Luyuan – a 20- year-old company with a big product portfolio in electric two-wheelers and a well-established presence in China.
The Chinese scooter in question is the Luyuan Rong Wei MNR-DAS7220-Z7. It has the same body work, an identical front and rear suspension setup with external canisters, and it even wears the unique front disc brake setup where a standard disc is surrounded by another wheel-rim-mounted disc. The electric motor appears to have the same spec as well, but there is no mention about the lithium-ion battery which Okinawa says will make its debut in the Praise later.
The few noticeable visual differentiators include the brand of tyres used and the Okinawa badging on the Praise in place of a Luyuan badge. The similarities between the two logos, however, are uncanny; they have the same shape/detailing and are separated only by the use of different colours.
Naturally, we reached out to Okinawa for more details. We asked if the two companies were partners in any way, or if the Praise is a rebadged Luyuan, or if it is being assembled here under licence. The company denied all of above and stated that Luyuan is a component supplier for some controller units used in the Praise and that the e-scooter is otherwise a true Okinawa product.
We’ll be the first to agree that nearly all vehicles manufactured these days use some level of Chinese-soured componentry, and this applies to bigger luxury brands too. This, however, is not our cause for complaint here, and many brands already sell Chinese products in our market as well – there’s nothing wrong with that as long as the products meet our mandated safety norms.
What raised eyebrows is Okinawa’s claim to have developed a completely in-house product in India, while Luyuan already has what appears to be practically the same product on sale for both the domestic Chinese market as well as for export business. This evidence certainly questions the Praise’s Indian roots.
At this point, we haven’t heard a convincing explanation for the similarities between the products as well as the company logos. We hope that Okinawa will shed some further light on this as customers deserve to know the facts about the products they’re buying.