The Gogoro is an electric scooter that looks unlike anything else currently on the market. That's one of its main selling points. Instead of following a “me too” design, the Gogoro is strikingly minimalistic in appearance and was designed to be an uncompromising city-dwelling urban commuter.
The Gogoro's appearance isn't the only thing that sets it apart. The Gogoro is unlike other electric scooters or bikes in another major way: You can't plug it in to charge it. The scooter relies on a network of battery swap stations strategically located throughout a city to quickly swap a nearly-depleted battery for a fresh one. The system is currently being tested in Taipei, Taiwan, and requires subscribing to a monthly subscription plan.
The Gogoro is an electric scooter that was designed specifically for riding around town. With a top speed of only 95 kilometers per hour, you aren't going to get to your destination very quickly. And with a range of just over 100 kilometers, you aren't going to be able to go very far, either. That's not what the Gogoro is all about. It's 8.3 horsepower motor is just enough to get you where you need to go safely, efficiently and economically. The Gogoro is about bringing affordable and reliable transportation to the masses. The Gogoro is billed as a “smart scooter” because it collects and relays data about the ride to the rider in real time. Information collected includes such things as system failures, battery charge remaining, speed and other data. The scooter also links up to an app on your smart phone through a Bluetooth connection, which allows you to make adjustments to the scooter's settings right from your mobile device.
It will take some time to determine whether the Gogoro's battery swapping scheme will be successful. On the one hand, there are many people who would actually prefer to have the option to plug their scooter into an outlet in their garage and let it charge overnight. It's easy. It's convenient. And on the other hand, there is some degree of inconvenience involved in traveling to a battery swap station just to get some more juice for your ride. And there's also the issue of those who want to use a Gogoro that don't live near battery swap stations. What are they supposed to do? It's entirely possible that a compromise could be implemented on a future model where it's possible to both charge your own batteries at home and also swap batteries. Then again, the battery swap scheme could prove to be too difficult and inconvenient to implement, thus resulting in a change to at-home charging.
Will the Gogoro take off or is it destined to be a two-wheeled version of the Edsel? Time will tell. It all comes down to whether or not riders like the company's battery swap plan or whether they prefer the more traditional charge-it-at-home approach. With $150 million in available funding, the company has sufficient wiggle room for failure before it finds its sweet spot.