Sun, Jan 11, 2015 - Page 13 News List

Gogoro unveils electric scooter, battery stations


A San Francisco startup backed by the billionaire co-founder of HTC Corp (宏達電) is promoting an electric scooter that features a recharging system that failed to catch on for battery-powered cars.

Gogoro Inc (睿能創意) unveiled its Smartscooter this week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. It can go more than 97km without recharging and will be available for sale this year, chief executive officer Horace Luke (陸學森) said.

The company is also developing kiosks where drivers can swap drained battery packs for fresh ones, a task that is much faster than recharging them, Luke said. He expects the scooters to catch on in large cities, especially in Asia.

The world’s biggest cities are “at a tipping point in population density, pollution fallout and rapid expansion,” Luke said in a statement. “It is essential that we reimagine the energy infrastructure.” He declined to discuss prices for the scooter.

Luke was previously chief innovation officer at HTC, and the mobile phone company’s chairwoman Cher Wang (王雪紅) has invested in Gogoro. She and her husband, Chen Wen-chi (陳文琦), are listed together as the 23rd-richest people in Taiwan, with a net worth of US$1.6 billion, according to Forbes.

Gogoro’s battery-swapping model is similar to that of Israel’s Better Place LLC, which went bankrupt in 2013. Drivers of electric cars could exchange drained power packs for fresh ones at Better Place charging stations, which had automated systems to transfer the components.

Gogoro’s kiosks are about the size of a vending machine, and the batteries are small and light enough that people can switch them by hand in less than a minute, Luke said.

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