LAS VEGAS — The makers of Gogoro, the electric smart scooter that wowed CES last year, have two unassuming tools for gaining traction beyond their launch city of Taipei.
The first is a charger for their 20-pound battery packs; the second is a website that lets wannabe owners nominate their hometowns to become Gogoro hubs.
Gogoro’s big plan is really more about the rechargeable battery packs, two of which power one of the scooters for 60 miles, than about the two-wheeled vehicles themselves. They’ve set up 140 charging stations since launching in Taipei last August, each of which is capable of charging eight of the swappable battery packs at at time.
They’ve also sold 4,000 of the cute little scooters — priced for about $4,000 in Taipei — to everyone from elderly first-time riders to hipsters who were already part of the Chinese city’s thriving scooter scene, according to Gogoro reps at CES this year.
“We didn’t anticipate the response,” said Gogoro rep Megan Zaroda.
Go Charger can help bring Gogoro to United StatesThe two-battery Go Charger could help bring Gogoro to the United States more quickly.[/caption]
The scooter, which operates with a smartphone app, will roll out in Amsterdam this year, but Gogoro really wants to come to America. Aside from zigzagging through federal regulations, one of the main roadblocks has been establishing the sort of network for swappable batteries that sits at the heart of Gogoro’s plans.
It’s a common dilemma faced by makers of purely electric vehicles — how do people keep their cars or bikes juiced while on the road?
To build on Gogoro’s early success, they’ve rolled out the two-battery Go Charger, which is much smaller than the eight-battery Go Stations the company installed in Taipei and which are perfect for the “megacities” it’s targeting first. The smaller charger would not look out of place in an apartment or near the entrance of a coffee shop.
While the scooter is still working its way through U.S. regulations, Gogoro plans to make it to the states this year. To help the company identify smaller cities or towns that might harbor pockets of electric scooter fans, it’s launched the Gogoro Open Initiative, a website that lets potential buyers register their interest.
Business owners interested in hosting a Go Charger can also enroll and potentially get one for free if Gogoro identifies a market with enough people itching for one of the sleek electric scoots.