Gogoro's battery-swapping Smartscooter ready to roll in TaiwanView gallery - 4 images
Taiwan-based startup Gogoro drew plenty of attention when it unveiled its Smartscooter at CES earlier this year. The thinking is that these electric two-wheelers will be ridden around urban centers and their lithium-ion batteries switched over at exchanges when they run out of juice. Though where and how exactly such a system could be implemented wasn't entirely clear, it is now one step closer to reality. The company has announced a pilot program to take place in Taiwan ahead of a launch this coming summer.
The Gogoro Smartscooter is impressive in itself. The sleek urban vehicle packs around 30 sensors inside to monitor things like gravity, shock and ambient light, synchronizing this information with ride data such as top speed and range and presenting it though an Android and iOS app.
But what the Gogoro team says will really set the vehicle apart from other electric scooters on the market is the Gogoro Energy Network, an exchange network made up of stations where Gogoro riders can switch over their depleted batteries for fully charged ones. This process is said to take only six seconds.
An ambitious plan to be sure. Between dealing with local governments and having enough infrastructure in place to make the system a viable commuting option, it will be a delicate balancing act. But Gogoro says Taiwan's capital city of Taipei will provide fertile ground for it to take its first steps.
"We wanted to launch the Gogoro pilot program in a market that has a strong track record of embracing innovation while also having a high concentration of scooters. Greater Taipei is clearly the ideal market," says Gogoro co-founder and CEO Horace Luke.
The pilot will see around 100 riders begin beta testing of Gogoro's vehicles around the city. To raise awareness, the company will also open what it calls the Gogoro Experience Center on Tuesday, aimed at giving locals the chance to drop in and learn all about the technology and its vision.