Ridden: Okinawa Praise
Words: Chinmay Chaudhary
Images: Sachin S Khot
First things first. The biggest shortcoming of any electric scooter is the short-distance mobility it provides on a single charge along with the hassle of finding charging plug points. Not to mention its sound barrier shattering top speeds and acceleration worthy of a visit to Bonneville’s salt flats. The Praise, however, claims to do things differently. It promises to return as many kilometres in one full charge as the conventionally-fuelled ones would provide in a tankful. The question is, does it have the same desirability? Will it be able to break the dogma of petrolheads?
In a sea of ugly e-scooters, the Praise isn’t ugly. In fact, it is one of the most complete designs in the world of electric scooters I must say. It gets a low body mounted headlamp, tapering front section along with a compact tail section that lends the scooter a contemporary look. The massive detachable backrest for the pillion might help those riding shotgun but it’s an eyesore and given the lack of touring credo, why include it at all?
The Praise offers a plethora of features like LED headlamp with DRLs, LED turn indicators, fully digital speedometer, central locking with anti-theft alarm, keyless entry, find my scooter feature and sensor enabled side stand (to prevent ignition when the stand is engaged). The scooter is shod with big 90/90 12 tyres.
Engine and performance
Powering the Praise is a 1000 watt, brushless DC motor with a maximum power output of 2500 watt. The scooter is offered with two battery options; the 72V/45Ah VRLA battery with 6-8 hours of charging time and a 72V/45Ah Lithium-ion battery with just an hour of charging time. The latter is yet to be launched.
The claimed top speed is 75kmph, which is among the highest when it comes to electric scooters available in the country today. It gets three riding modes; Economy, Sporty and Turbo with top speeds of 35kmph, 65kmph and 75kmph respectively. On our test run, we managed to see 72kmph on the speedo in Turbo mode. The Praise gets a bizarre double disc brake setup at the front and a single disc at the rear although brakes lack bite and you have to apply quite a bit of force to stop.
Ride and handling
Handling is not something that is considered top priority as far as electric scooters are concerned, but the Praise isn’t disappointing. There were times when I felt the scooter could have done with a well weighted front section but the battery and motor positioning being completely different, it will still take some time for electric scooter manufacturers to figure out the sweet spot. Ride is stable on good road surfaces but in spite of being equipped with telescopic forks at the front, the scooter completely unsettles itself even while going over the rumble strips. (Trust me, it’s scary) The initial acceleration is gradual and the pull is strong enough (with turbo mode switched on) that you can actually overtake slow moving vehicles on the road.
We managed to eke out just about 100km in Sporty mode with still some juice left in the battery. Strangely, we couldn’t detect any noticeable difference in range in the Economy mode. Okinawa will have you believe that the Praise runs at 10paise/km. With petrol prices at Rs 80 per litre (in Maharashtra), a conventional 110cc scooter will cost around Rs 1.90/km (considering an average fuel efficiency of 42kmpl in city riding conditions). Considering a yearly mileage of 10,000km, the Praise will consume just `1,000 worth of electricity while conventional scooters will sip in over Rs 19,000 worth of fuel.
Well, the most important aspect on any scooter is the space and riding comfort it offers. Praise surely promises the first, though it sorely misses out on the latter. The seat height at 774mm is perfect for short riders but the floorboard is set very high requiring you to place your legs higher. Finding a comfortable riding position is a nightmare.
Like it or not, electric mobility is the future and it’s for our own benefit. Just to make a straight link with the best-selling scooter in the country, at Rs 59,889 (ex-showroom, Delhi), the Praise comes at a premium of Rs 5,000 over the Honda Activa 5G. The Praise has surely lit the spark, but there is a long way to go before electric scooters actually replace their petrol counterparts.