Dr Mukherji, the Managing Director of Omega Seiki Mobility (OSM), was in Kathmandu recently for the launch of OSM range of electric three-wheelers in the Nepali market. OSM has partnered with local firm MAW Vriddhi to distribute its electric three-wheelers in Nepal. Tamish Giri from New Business Age sat down with Narang to discuss the company’s plan for Nepal. Excerpts:
What brought you to Nepal?
The electric vehicle transition is happening globally in a very fast and large scale. Countries using automobiles will go electric and we, at OSM, look at these opportunities and avail them. We want to be the early mover in any market we operate. That is how we started in India, and that is how we went to Bangladesh as well as to Egypt and Turkey. Nepal and India are very similar in the terms of cultural, and industrial environments. There are opportunities here as well as challenges. We saw the opportunity and were fortunate to have a great partner in MAW. That’s what brings us here.
Why did you choose to partner with MAW?
MAW is a very experienced partner. They have a very deep history in Nepal, and they understand the Nepal industrial climate and customer mindset- what might work and what may not work. Since our products are to be a new category of electric vehicles, we feel that MAW are the best partner for us. MAW understands the industrial landscape of Nepal very well. Since we are looking not only at selling but creating a complete eco-system meaning charging stations, servicing, spare parts, and also manufacturing in Nepal, we feel that they are the best at these.
OSM has a wide range of products. Which products are you bringing to Nepal?
The three-wheeler, which we have launched in Nepal, is in two categories- cargo as well as passenger. We will bring more variants also. OSM is a solution creator. We don't have any standard products that the market needs. We provide whatever the customer wants. Right now, we are introducing three-wheelers. In the future, we are planning to bring in four-wheeler pick-up trucks, as well as scooters.
How different is OSM products from existing vehicles in Nepal? What is your USP?
The first difference is that our EVs have lithium batteries. On a single charge, it gives a range of 120-130 kilometres. The cost of running our vehicle is roughly one-tenth of the fuel vehicle. So, it is very cost-beneficial for the users. Also, it is a safe model as tested by the authorities of the Indian government. We have been using it for three years without a single report of failure or safety issues. Our products are of higher quality compared to low-budget Chinese products. All our products come with a five-year warranty.
What are your strategies for Nepal?
The strategy is to be the first in the market, create the segment and give value to the customers. Customers will buy the vehicle only if it brings any value to them, otherwise, why would they trust a new brand? So, this is where we address the problem of value creation to the customers. Value creation for us is the cost and also the total cost of the ownership. Also, we are giving customers high-quality vehicles that address the basic problem of utilising Nepal’s surplus energy.
Nepal is a new market for you. What are the challenges you are likely to face here?
Like any new industry, there are also challenges in the electric vehicle industry. It is similar to computers. When the computer first came to India, the price of the desktop was 200,000 and the laptops was 300,000. The prices came down after volume started going up. Cost versus volume is always a challenge for evolving industries in the initial stage. Secondly, the charging station installation has to be there on large scale. When customers buy a petrol or diesel vehicle today, they don't worry much because they get a petrol station at every kilometre or so. Every time their fuel tank is empty, they go to the station and in five minutes it is full. For electric vehicles, you will have to create charging stations first. Also, the time for charging EV today takes about 2-3 hours. We need to have quick charging solutions or battery-swapping solutions.
Where are your products currently available?
Our one dealership has already come into operation. MAW Vridhi is our partner for the entire country. It will eventually set up stores in other cities outside Kathmandu.
Any sales targets for Nepal for the next year?
By next year we should be selling at least 100 units in a month and turn it into 1,200 to 2,000 units a year. This could be a good start. In India, this year, we are selling 8,000 vehicles. Next year, our target is 20,000 units. In India, the market is very big and is growing rapidly. We had a small start in India by only selling 80 vehicles in our first year. It was COVID time, and everything was closed down. However, the next year we sold 2,000 vehicles. So, this is how we grow.
What is your suggestion to potential buyers?
I suggest choosing a proven vehicle in terms of quality and technology. Please do not experiment because this is a high-voltage system, and you might end up with failure and an accident. In India, we have seen that the battery caught fire, and people lost their lives because they were all low-end cheap imports from China. OSM already has five years of experience. Our products come with a lot of warranties and are backed by high technology.