PHOTO CAPTION: The twin batterie in the Gogoro Smartscooter can be exchanged in less than a minute.

Gogoro SmartScooter Pilot Launches in Taipei

Horace Luke's concept is simple, make riding an electric scooter quicker and more convenient than driving a car.

Published: 31-Mar-2015

Starting this week in Taipei, Taiwan, Gogoro is launching a 100-rider pilot program to test the feasibility of its battery swap concept. Instead of owners being restricted to the typical less than 50 miles of driving range on an electric scooter and then several hours of recharge time, having access to a network of battery exchange stations, makes a question of range and recharge time concerns of the past.

Working with Panasonic, the company led by Horace Luke, had developed an attractive Vespa-styled motor scooter powered by a pair of fast-swap lithium ion batteries. Range is reported to be out to 60 miles at a steady 25 mph (40 km/h). Eight replacement battery are stored in the prototype swap station, which is about the size of an ATM. The rider simply lifts the seat of the scooter and pulls out the depleted batteries, each weighing some 20 lbs or 9 kg. These are exchanged for freshly charged units. The swap stations are module, so multiple units can be stacked next to each other.

Still to be worked out, in addition to usability issues, is pricing. How much will the scooters cost? How many stations are needed for driver-friendly network? What's the pricing model for swapping batteries? Can the scooter be charged at home? If not, I see a hack on the horizon.

The pilot program aims to accumulate some 100,000 hours of operations prior to moving to phase two, according to Wired.

The infrastructure bit is especially important: If a rider can’t easily get to a swap station, or does get there only to find no fully charged batteries, the whole idea is kaput.

Assuming both the scooter and the swap stations survive their real world 'stress test' on the streets of Taipei, the company will move to 'aggressively' deploy large numbers of the battery kiosk, hopefully as early as this summer.

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