The world is rapidly changing and mega-cities are now evolving into vast mega-regions. By 2050, over 70 percent of the world’s population will be urban dwellers. This means that people are going to need world-class transportation, energy and housing. Unless, we want our kids to live in a city that is as smog-choked as China is, transportation will have to be emission free.
Taiwanese start-up Gogoro, founded by former HTC Chief Innovation Officer Luke Horace, wants to provide products that will change the way people use energy in huge, densely populated cities. Coffer decked with $150 million in funding, the company which has been toying with the tagline “a more intelligent and adaptive system for today’s most dynamic cities” for past several months, has finally released more information about its idea – a slick electric scooter that will be compatible with a network of battery swap stations that will be deployed in every few blocks across a city.
Furthermore, Gogoro predicts that once those lithium ion batteries have been drained to a certain point, they can get a second life as power sources for offices, homes and data centers.
Gogoro An Electric Scooter of Future
Gogoro is yet to name partner cities, but here’s how the Gogoro Energy Network will work: when the user’s 62-mile-range scooter battery is drained, they can bring it to the nearest charging station which can be found within 0.8 mile radius. An accompanying smartphone app will provide information on the battery level and on the nearest swap stations, as well as facilitates battery reservations.
The used battery is then removed and inserted into modular swap stations that are about the size of an ATM machine, a process that will take no more than 6 seconds. The swap station will also recognize the user based on their battery, and provide additional information on the scooter, for example, how many miles it has been ridden, whether brake light or the blinker has stopped working etc. Once the drained battery is inserted into modular swap stations, a fresh battery will be automatically provided.
Gogoro will then use the information to learn more about rider’s battery usage. Those who ride more intensely will be given newer batteries, while casual riders will be given batteries that have been used more than one. On completion of 500 cycles, or 5 years of use, the batteries will be given a second life as power sources. A steady stream of retired battery packs will be produced starting five years after the launch. A charged battery with 50 percent to 75 percent capacity will be able to power a house for about an hour, a laptop for 25 hours, and home furnace for an evening, a server rack with 40 servers for 20 minutes.
Riders can pay an upfront cost for the scooter and then lease batteries for a recurring amount, which is quite similar to a cellphone plan.
The smart scooter will be manufactured by Gogoro. Its design features include an aluminum frame, a liquid-cooled electric motor, and the ability to accelerate from 0 to 31 mph in 4.2 seconds. The scooter additionally has a 50/50 weight distribution balance, making it easier to make a hockey stop. It’s front panel is magnetically attached and can be removed using a suction cup, thereby providing easy access to the scooter’s innards
It’s a smart scooter, so of course there’s going to be sensors. Lot and lots of sensors! The makers behind this technology come from the smartphone industry, so everything that is one a smartphone will be on the smart vehicle.
Gogoro An Electric Smart Scooter
The smart scooter is decked with 30 sensors, which includes a digital compass, shock sensors, as well as a thermal sensor. The scooter will be able to analyze riding patterns, optimize energy usage etc. The scooter will upload data on its condition every 10 minutes. Riders will also be able to download sound effects and lighting patterns for the scooter’s display.
A similar start-up called Better Place, recently went into bankruptcy for a number of reasons. One of its biggest problems was that it failed to get professionals from the automotive industry onboard.
However, it’s seems that such issues from arise for Gogoro, which has been making both scooters as well as battery swap stations.
There’s another successful auto start-up to look at – Tesla, which recently added battery swap services at its Supercharger EV charging stations to its incredibly inventive portfolio. The release is said to be a pilot program for the time being. Tesla, however, hasn’t attempted to roll out multiple Supercharger stations installed across the city as Gogoro.
The super start-up does face from rivalry from Better Place as well as Tesla. Here’s one simple problem it might face in its early stages of development: what if people don’t buy those scooters at all? It would make no sense to install swap stations, if its scooters are lying in the company warehouses for months and months.
Since each swap stations will cost less than $10,000, there’s a good chance that Gogoro being a well-funded startup will be able to roll out as many swap stations as it wants and will wait for customers to arrive.
The company will have to look for cities for initial tests. According to Luke, Gogoro is already in talks with a couple of urban cities and has more than enough capital to roll out a couple of big cities. All that the company needs right now, to release its scooters and swap stations in densely populated cities, and a little more awareness about two wheeled vehicles as the future of autos.
Looks like Vietnam could be a good choice for Gogoro? Or maybe, a few other cities in Southeast Asia, where scooters are almost everywhere!
It could also try out in cities like New York or San Francisco, although that again is going to need a lot of convincing for locals to switch from public transportation to smart scooters.
Gogoro is scheduled to announce its first cities by the end of 2015.