Taiwan’s Gogoro Cruises Japan

Andre Parker September 28, 2017
Taiwan’s Gogoro Cruises Japan

Taiwan’s Gogoro, an electric scooter maker, said that it had secured investment from Sumimoto Corp, a Japanese trading house. This gives Gogoro the chance to expand its market to Japan’s highly competitive scooter market.

The catch is that the company won’t be focusing much on selling its electric scooter. Horace Luke, Gogoro’s chief executive officer, said that he plans to supply the company’s batteries to different Japanese automakers, including Toyota Motor Corp and Nissan Motor Co. He also hopes that his company can supply to transportation service providers. If that happens, it will enable drivers to swap out used batteries for new ones at its roadside stations.

In 2015, Gogoro stole the show at the Consumer Electronics show, in which it drew the crowd’s attention toward the slick electronic scooter that the company unveiled.

Gogoro is collaborating with Sumimoto to create the scooter sharing service that will be called GoShare. The launch of GoShare will be on the resort island of Ishigaki in November, and it is expected to spread to “other cities and markets” next year.

“Our vision is for every vehicle maker in Japan and in the region to use Gogoro batteries and Gogoro infrastructure,” said Luke.

GoShare is quite different from the rental service that Gogoro launched in Berlin and Paris since it will include the company’s battery swapping stations and a slightly different business model. According to Gogoro, the battery stations could support “compact four-wheel vehicles in the future,” and other applications.

“We can use Sumimoto Corporation’s horsepower with our spark and innovation to make a lot of changes,” Luke said in a statement.

The investment money that Gogoro received amounted to $300 million, and at the heel of that amount, Gogoro seems to be making a significant step toward the broad vision that the firm previously laid out in 2015.

Luke Outlines Future Developments

According to Luke, the company’s presence will be expanding mostly in nearby Asian markets, like Singapore, India, and China. Tamasek, which is one of the firm’s new investors, is “very well-connected in Asia and very well-connected in India.” Those markets are good for Gogoro’s network of scooters and battery swapping stations, Luke claimed.

The Taiwanese chief executive said that one good sign of this is the 13,000 pre-orders of the Smartscooter 2, which was announced at the end of May. The first smartscooter sold around 23,000 pieces around the world. This means that certain markets are going in and digging sharp and affordable electric scooters. Luke also claimed that Gogoro scooters make up about 92 percent of the total scooter market in the cities where Gogoro is present.

The Gogoro CEO connects the favorable demand for the Smartscooter 2 to the well-established network of battery swapping stations.

“I think that really shows that the network is mature enough and ready enough that people, when they subscribe to the Gogoro vision, they don’t have to worry about charging anymore,” he said.

When it comes to major western cities, Luke cites huge cultural differences as reasons why his firm doesn’t intend to put these cities to high priority.

“You don’t wear somebody else’s shoes. In Taiwan it’s like that, in Vietnam it’s like that, in Thailand it’s like that and emerging markets, mainly, are like that,” Luke said after comparing scooters to shoes. “There’s a part of the world that really needs a fractional ownership experience or a fractional user experience. And I think that that is places like Berlin and Paris and other major cities across Europe.”

Countries with severe problems with pollution, energy, and poverty seem to be under Luke’s focus, saying that such countries demand transportation “so that they can live a modern life, but yet they cannot afford a better vehicle.”

Luke further explained why he wanted to focus on his company’s infrastructure, saying that although electric vehicles are speedily gaining momentum, finding a convenient way to re-charge such vehicles is still a big challenge. Battery life is one hurdle that Tesla Inc faces, especially prior to the unveiling of its electric big rig next month.

Gogoro has distributed around 100 megawatt hours of batteries across 400 stations in his country, and Luke said that this figure should be doubled by the end of next year.

Being careful of the growth, Luke said that their firm’s battery can solve a lot of problems but they don’t want to abuse it.

“Gogoro isn’t just a scooter maker. It wants to expand usage of its battery infrastructure. We’d like to help it to attract more users, including domestic automakers, to its energy platform,” said Tsuyoshi Ogata, deputy General Manager of Sumimoto Corp’s mobility service business.

This planned expansion comes amid the race to electrification of vehicles among technological companies. China plans to eventually ban diesel and petrol-powered vehicles and replace them with electrified cars, while Nissan took wraps off its latest Leaf 2018 electric vehicle. A German startup has also announced the development of a five-seater flying-taxi , which is also electrically powered.

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Andre Parker


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