Tue, Jun 09, 2015 - Page 14 News List

INTERVIEW: Gogoro aims to reinvent how energy is consumed

Gogoro Inc, which secured US$50 million in funding from investors such as the Ruentex Group’s Samuel Yin and HTC Corp’s Cher Wang prior to its establishment in 2011, is initiating another US$100 million round to fund its planned product rollout this summer. To get an up-close look at the start-up, contributing reporter Joyce Huang sat down with Gogoro vice president of marketing Peng Ming-i, who elaborated on the firm’s vision

Maybe today, the starting price of Gogoro will be higher, because we’ve put in the latest technology and premium materials to build it. However, one day, if more people use it, we will be able to build the next generation, which might help lower the price.

We are trying to reshape the industry and give it a different voice. It is not about whether it is feasible [to effect change], it is more about whether we want to do it or not. If today I changed all traditional scooters into electric scooters, the weather in Taipei would be much better tomorrow.

TT: So what will your pricing strategy be?

Peng: Our strategy is to make sure it’s acceptable and affordable. Maybe you pay everything in one shot, but at a lower price, or you pay through a financing program. Or we use the energy to subsidize the scooter’s price, like the subscription plan of an iPhone. Since we are selling energy and electric scooters together, we can play around with these figures.

A traditional scooter costs between US$2,000 and US$3,000. For those who are used to paying US$3,000, maybe I can find something else to make this vehicle more accessible to you. [Gogoro plans to release its pricing plan next month.]

TT: On top of performance and price, your swappable battery station — the GoStation — will be part of the deal. What is your plan?

Peng: In the initial stage, we will build one GoStation every 2km2 to 4km2, which would allow a rider to access the next station within 1.5km to 2km. We plan to start in downtown Taipei with a good density, especially at locations near the city’s 11 bridges. After that, we would build more based on the number of riders, or an appropriate road to rack ratio, when we have a better idea of how energy is used among our riders.

The location of our stations can be flexible — they can be [near] convenience stores, supermarkets or next to gas stations. We have partners for our energy stations that include parking lots; CPC Corp, Taiwan (台灣中油); the Taipei City Government; and even coffee shops. The day we announce our prices, we will also make public the locations of our available stations.

A total of 230 [international] cities have approached and asked us [for a partnership]. However, we don’t have the resources to go everywhere. Even with Taipei, it takes a great deal of effort, manpower and investment. To us, the most important thing is to make sure our first city, Taipei, is successful. Afterward there would be many possibilities to go to any city in the world.

TT: Who are the major players and talent behind Gogoro?

Peng: Our talent comes from so many different industries — mobile phones, information technology, cars and scooters, as well as luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton. We have many people who used to sell information technology products and consumer electronics. No matter which industry they are from, we all deal with the same group of clients who buy smartphones, cars and watches.

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