Take a walk through most major Asian cities and you’ll quickly notice two things: an overwhelming number of scooters, and crushing air pollution.
Scooter and motorcycle-related air pollution will only get worse; by 2050, more than 70% of the global population will live in urban areas.
A startup called Gogoro, which officially launched in January, thinks it has a solution: an electric SmartScooter, powered by lithium-ion batteries, that’s compatible with battery swap stations placed strategically around cities.
This week, Gogoro announced that the scooter will cost $US4,100 — far more than the gas-powered scooters that clog cities today. And this is just the initial price for Taipei, where the SmartScooter is is being piloted. The price could go up in other cities.
Previously, Luke had said that the scooter would be in the $US2,000 to $US3,000 range. Low-end gas scooters can sell for under $US500.
The $US4,100 price gives customers a lot more than what they would get for the price of a regular gas-powered scooter, however. In addition to the SmartScooter, they receive two years of road-side servicing, maintenance and a year of theft insurance, and two years of battery-swapping service, according to the Verge.
No word on how much a battery swap subscription will cost after that.
Here’s the battery-swapping in action:
At a demo in San Francisco earlier this year, Gogoro CEO Horace Luke showed that the whole swapping process — removing old batteries, dropping them off, getting new ones — takes just six seconds. The scooter has a 60 mile charge, which is more than enough juice for most urban bikers.
In addition to the battery-swapping, the scooter comes with other handy features, including a digital dashboard and smartphone monitoring capabilities.
But the SmartScooter is a big cost for people who buy scooters because they can’t afford cars — or for anyone who has no real reason to switch from a gas-powered bike. If Gogoro can eventually get its costs down, the SmartScooter can make cities more pleasant for everyone. But that’s a big “if”.
The SmartScooter is available for preorder in Taipei on June 27th.
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