This could take a lot of smelly gas mopeds off the road.
One of the problems with electric vehicles (and with cars in general) is that many people do not own parking spaces, so they don't have an easy way to charge their cars. It's one reason I have admired the Gogoro model so much; you don't charge the batteries, you exchange them, no private charging point needed. Derek called the SmartScooter "the Tesla of scooters, combining a slick streamlined aluminum monocoque chassis and a quick electric drive system (top speed 60 mph) with state-of-the-art sensor and mobile technology."
Since then it has caught on around the world, with over 200,000 sold and more than 125,000 battery swaps per day. The system apparently works.
Now Gogoro has introduced what might be called the Tesla Model 3 of scooters; the VIVA is smaller, lighter, easier to handle, and cheaper, too. Gas-powered scooters are very popular in many countries, and they are very dirty. Horace Luke, founder of Gogoro, says, “We are always looking for opportunities to create solutions that enable broader access to sustainable urban transportation and this smaller lightweight category of polluting 50-100cc gas scooters was a natural segment to introduce a Gogoro Smartscooter.”
The VIVA uses a single battery and has a range of up to 85Km between battery swaps. "With its synchronized braking system, VIVA provides braking control when it is needed most and with the integration of Gogoro’s iQ System is continuously updating itself to provide the ideal ride."
People who don't have garages often have to leave their scooters outside, but Gogoro has apparently added some sophisticated tools to reduce theft:
The Gogoro iQ Smart Keycard with NFC connectivity provides an intuitive way to easily unlock and start VIVA with a single touch. With advanced facial recognition, fingerprint sensors and passcode security from your smartphone, the VIVA can stay secure and is nearly impossible to steal.
There is a lot to love about the concept. It is low maintenance, has 21 litres (1281 cubic inches) of storage for your groceries, and is made of flexible plastic. Luke tells TechCrunch that "the VIVA is aimed toward the population going no more than 5 kilometers a day, who don’t want to worry about scratches, cost of ownership, having to take it to the shop for maintenance or parking.” It will retail for about US$1,800, which is cheaper than a lot of e-bikes. It's hugely successful in its home base of Taiwan:
As in many other Asian cities, mopeds are popular in Taiwan and serve as the primary vehicle for many drivers, transporting multiple passengers and deliveries. Luke says Gogoro’s scooters now account for 95% of the country’s electric vehicle market share and about 17% of all new vehicles sold in Taiwan, including gas ones.
Gogoro scooters are also great for ride-sharing because the battery swap is so fast and easy; I saw them all over Berlin a few years ago. While the swappable battery concept failed in cars, it makes a lot of sense with these smaller, lighter vehicles. The company is getting ready to expand into other international markets, including in North America. According to Electrek,
Gogoro is still determining the type of sales model it will use internationally. It could be similar to the model currently used in Taiwan, where riders buy the scooter but not the batteries, and instead pay a monthly subscription of between US $10-$30 for battery swap access. Or Gogoro might begin by simply selling the scooters and batteries outright, with riders charging at home.
It's certainly easier to carry a battery up to an apartment than it is a whole bike.
A few years ago when we wondered Will a lack of places to charge electric cars be a problem? I suggested that Gogoro might well offer a solution for people without parking, taking up less space and not needing a changing point. These days, with all the battles everywhere about street parking, it makes even more sense.