Gogoro has announced that they are testing their new SmartScooter in Taipei. There is a lot to watch here as this is more than just an alternative energy vehicle, these electric scooters feature what could be a game changing recharge plan. The price for the SmartScooter is steep, listed at over $4,000 dollars, but there is no additional cost for fuel. Taipei is a great choice to test out this new vehicle and its novel approach to changing the way electric scooters are used.
What’s so different about the SmartScooter?
There really isn’t much different about this electric scooter compared to others on the market, but there is a huge difference in how the charge is maintained. Forget solar panels or micro battery packs, the SmartScooter works on a battery swap system. Gogoro is installing battery swap stations around the city that allows users to pull up and swap their low energy batteries for fully charged ones. While the initial cost of the scooter is steep there is no cost for two years for the battery swap service. There is also no ability of the user to recharge their batteries from any other power source. This has led to some questions and criticisms about the process.
The biggest criticism of Gogoru’s plan
The only option that owners of the SmartScooter have for recharging is via the battery swap at the installed stations around the capital. This is convenient and acts to extend the range of the electric scooter, and there is also no charge for this service for the first two years after the initial purchase. This is where a very large “but” comes in. Gogoru has not released any specifics about what the monthly or annual cost of the subscription to the battery swap service will be. Given that it is the only way to recharge the scooter owners don’t have any alternatives. This is making some people very hesitant about investing a large sum of money in this electric scooter when fossil fuel powered ones are cheaper and easily available.
Taipei is functionally the scooter capital of the world. It is a densely populated city with an enormous amount of scooters on the road. City officials are hopeful that scooters powered with clean energies such as electricity will catch on to help reduce carbon emissions within the city limits. Taipei is not a rich city so it remains to be seen who has the money to invest in a SmartScooter with so much of its annual operating cost undefined. The potential for the scooter is enormous, but it will most likely need a subsidy to make it an affordable transportation solution.