Jasper Chou

@jasperchou_76306

Taiwan Startup Gogoro aka The Scooter of Tesla

Recently, Gogoro just rolled out on all new electric scooter called the Gogoro 2 Smartscooter along with its plans to add a network of more than 500 battery stations to the already existing 350 all over Taiwan. Looking back, just 2 years ago was when Gogoro revealed itself to the world and was known to the world as the Tesla on two wheels.

Gogoro Smartscooters

Gogoro is an emission free scooter that runs solely on electricity thanks to the Panasonic Lithium Ion 18650 battery. Gogoro’s existence stems from the hardships of living in a populated city with air pollution, sky rocketing gas prices, and the cram-full roads that brings peaking traffic. Many people who live in densely populated cities resort to scooters as transportation but scooters still run on expensive gas and emit CO2. Given these reasons, Gogoro hopes to be the replacement for scooters and aims to be the perfect transportation in densely populated cities.

What makes Gogoro’s Smartscooter so special besides running 100% on electricity is its charging design. Instead of plugging into an outlet to recharge, the Smartscooter runs on swappable batteries. This battery swapping design is well supported by the Gogoro Energy Network. The Gogoro Energy Network is a modular battery swapping infrastructure designed to be deployed everywhere like gas stations. Riders would be able to swap out depleted batteries at this network for a monthly subscription fee. For example, if a rider is running out of battery, he or she could pull up to a battery station and exchange the low battery for a new one, refueling the vehicle in a matter of seconds. Additionally, Gogoro’s smart phone app would provide information on the vehicle’s battery level, the nearest swap stations, and the correct statistics on battery reservations.

Gogoro Battery Charging Station

Why we need Gogoro?

Some of the world’s biggest cities are getting larger. According to the United Nations, 54% of the world’s population today lives in urban areas and is expected to increase to 66% by 2050. With so many people cramped in small areas, they will need effective and reliable transportation that doesn’t put weight on the environment.

Gogoro will be the key to solving city pollution and traffic density by providing “a more intelligent and adaptive system for today’s most dynamic cities”.

Like Tesla, Gogoro has bigger plans for its batteries and network of charging stations. According to Gogoro, the company now has a GoStation less than every 1.3 kilometer in Taipei. Additionally, Gogoro envisions its batteries to be able to be the power sources for data centers, homes, and offices with the confidence that its low-cost technology can better perform than a traditional lead acid battery. According to Gogoro, a charged battery at 50% to 75% capacity can power a house for an hour, a laptop for 25 hours, a home furnace for an evening, or server rack with 40 servers for 20 minutes.

Infamous Gogoro Battery Packs

What makes Gogoro an unique hardware startup?

In many ways Gogoro is similar to Tesla. Gogoro, though transforming the traditional concept of scooter and transportation, is more of a technology company than a vehicle company. Like Tesla, Gogoro does not sell through dealerships but instead has its own stores that showcase its Gogoro Smartscooters, batteries, phone app, and charging stations.

Image by SlashGear

Gogoro Smartscooters are not just vehicles for transportation. There are 30 sensors on the scooter including a digital compass, a shock sensor, and a thermal sensor. The Gogoro Smartscooter can analyze riding patterns, optimize energy use, and dim its lights when necessary to maximize energy. Every 10 minutes, the scooter uploads information on its condition online. Riders can also download sound effects and lighting patterns to further customize their scooters. Everything creative and versatile can be done through its smartphone app. The co-founder of Gogoro, Horace Luke, comes from a background of being the chief innovation officer at HTC, a mobile phone and consumer electronics company. Horace Luke had visions of making Gogoro more than just a scooter, putting most things you can find and use on your smartphone on Gogoro as well.

Display of Gogoro’s smartphone app.

Gogoro’s Tomorrow & Upcoming Challenges.

Despite their rapid success, Gogoro and its charging network is now facing the classic chicken and the egg problem. Like Tesla, Gogoro has the problem that people won’t buy scooters if the swap stations aren’t available, but it doesn’t make sense to do a mass rollout of swap stations without potential customers. For Gogoro, each swap station costs less than $10,000, which is a significant advantage over Tesla’s $500,000 cost of a car battery swap station. Gogoro is more likely to be able to afford to do a big rollout and then wait for the customers to come.

Gogoro also needs to find cities that are willing to adopt its scooters and charging stations. Horace Luke says that Gogoro is in talks with a number of urban areas and that it has enough capital to launch in one or two big cities. However. cities needs to have the right population density and the population has to recognise electric scooters as the key to a better future.

Some cities in Southeast Asia where scooters are already ubiquitous might potentially work in Gogoro’s favour. A smaller city like San Francisco or Amsterdam could also work. However, Gogoro would have to do a lot of work convincing the population that scooters are the most effective means of transportation. In whichever launch cities it chooses, Gogoro will also have to work out the complicated logistics of figuring out where the swap stations go.

To sums things up, Gogoro launched a vehicle and powers it with a citywide network of proprietary battery swapping stations. These vehicles have integrated systems that make it them comparable to IoT gadgets. Gogoro’s batteries will be sold for other purposes while combating pollution by reducing smog, balancing power grids, and clearing city traffics. This seems like a lot to do, but to change the world and put it in a better place, maybe this is what you have to offer.

Jasper Chou is the Co-Founder of LYNKD, a new age product development and sourcing management firm that focuses on manufacturing and go-to market strategies.

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