I like Tesla. It is gradually making electricity usable as the fuel for transportation. There have always been good reasons to swap to electrically powered vehicles, of course — cleaner air and instant acceleration being two prime examples — but it is only a visionary company that has started to overcome the major inconveniences. Another, similarly visionary startup named Gogoro wants to do the same for inner city scooters.
Any technology firm can get some decent attention by pulling donuts on a bike at CES, but Gogoro actually has some impressive tech to back it up. The scooters, which are fairly ordinary in terms of looks, are powered by battery packs that can be replaced in six seconds (Gogoro’s estimate). Like Iron Man’s electromagnetic pulse generator, these packs simply plug in to the heart of the scooter, instantly providing power. The idea is to offer banks of these packs at charging stations every 0.8 miles throughout every city in which the scheme is running, with scooter owners paying a subscription for access.
There’s more to the plan, though. The scooters work with Gogoro’s app, which in turn connects to the company’s network, and in so doing, can provide information about nearby charging stations, including directions. The transport habits of owners are noted, allowing the system to adapt to the needs of local riders. The theory is that, at some point, it may even be possible to reserve batteries at important times.
The scooter itself isn’t bad, either. A 0-31mph time of 4.2 seconds doesn’t sound all that good, but in congested urban environments, it is rare to hit that dizzying speed. Away from the queues, the scooter’s top speed is 60mph, and it can lean up to 45 degrees to each side, making it good for a cross-town dash. The battery range is 60 miles, too.
So when will we see this on our roads? Well the company expects to launch in its first city this year, although Asia seems the likely initial destination, where scooters are part of the motoring culture, and air quality is sometimes problematic. The price of the scooter and its service is currently unknown, but given that the battery — the most expensive component of any electric vehicle — is paid for separately, I would expect the scooters to be quite affordable.
Here’s hoping, anyway; I want to try one.