Will Okinawa's voluntary recall of 3215 Praise scooters set a precedent ?

by Amit Vijay M 17 Apr 2022


Okinawa Autotech’s voluntary recall of 3,215 units of its Praise Pro scooters on Saturday, a first in the Indian EV industry, may well set a precedent for other automakers to up their game, as consumers increasingly opt for electric vehicles to cope with rising fuel costs.

In a statement, the company said the broad scope of this recall will include to “fix any issue related to batteries with immediate effect.”  

The company's recall is in response to various fire incidents including one in Vellore where a man and his 13-year old daughter died after their scooter burst into flames, and another incident of the vehicles batteries were seen emitting smoke in Tirupur, Andhra Pradesh, last week.

As part of the recall, Okinawa will have all the Praise Pro scooters checked for loose connectors and any such troubleshooting no extra charge at all is pan-India dealerships. "This voluntary campaign is in the wake of the recent thermal incident and in line with the company’s long-standing commitment to customer safety," the company added.

It remains to be seen if other EV manufacturers will follow suit and recall their vehicles in order to  create a sense of confidence in the consumers. Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI AAYOG  speaking to CNBC TV18 in an interview said, “Time is ripe for the EV industry to instil a sense of confidence in consumers the way global automakers do by voluntarily recalling their vehicles over fire risks”

Okinawa said it is also working closely with the dealer partners to ensure that the repair undertaken are at the convenience of its customers, and for which the vehicle owners will be contacted individually.

Half a dozen incidents of electric vehicles catching fire have been reported over the last fortnight, On April 9, as many as 20 vehicles of Jitendra New EV Tech loaded in a container in Nashik, Maharashtra, caught fire. Other EV makers whose vehicles have been involved in such accidents include Ola Electric and Pure EV.

Nitin Gadkari, Union minister for road transport and highways told parliament last month that government is investigating all these incidents for which experts from the Naval Science & Technological Laboratory (NSTL), Visakhapatnam, the Centre for Fire, Explosive and Environment Safety (CFEES) have been roped in. The Indian Institute of Science now probing the fires including the recent Nashik incident.

On 14th April, Ola Founder & CEO Bhavish Aggarwal took to Twitter to share pics of his meeting with  Minister Gadkari. "Met Shri Nitin Gadkari ji and discussed India's potential to become the world's EV hub and Ola's plans. Demoed the scooter to him! His belief in bringing together an electric revolution and making sustainable mobility a reality is really inspiring for us at OlaElectric!," wrote Bhavish Aggarwal on Twitter.

@OlaElectric! pic.twitter.com/eRhHcOHfOd— Bhavish Aggarwal (@bhash) April 14, 2022

Ola has also been facing some other speed bumps too. A picture of an Ola user’s front suspension breaking down went viral in social media at the time of filing this report.  Seen in the photograph shared by  Rohan Miglani is a brand new Ola S1 Pro stuck in busy traffic. Fortunately, no one was injured.

Customers of electric vehicles are facing a raft of issues including poor build quality,  vehicles getting stranded on the road with the range display disappearing, software glitches and poor ride quality. Going forward, EV makers will have to do more to assuage customer concerns not only about product quality but aftermarket service and safety issues as well.