We've already established that electric motorcycles don't have to be stodgy appliances, but the problem – as always – is charging and range. So what if you nixed the amount of time it takes to juice up with a ubiquitous infrastructure of swappable batteries? That's what Gogoro is trying to do.
The company calls it a "Smartscooter", a smartphone connected electric two-wheeler designed for bouncing around the city and a battery-swapping network to power it all.
The company has its roots in HTC – supplying both the founders and some engineers – with a recent $150 million round of funding primarily raised by the smartphone manufacturer's chairwoman, Cher Wang. That connection to mobile gadgets is key, because that's basically what the Gogoro is.
It's packing LED head and taillights, a data connection to connect with the Gogoro encrypted network, and Bluetooth that links up to a smartphone to control everything from vehicle settings to the color of the display. You don't start it with a key, but instead a little white fob that opens the under seat storage and identifies you as the rider when you roll up to a charging station.
The aluminum frame scooter uses a liquid-cooled permanent magnet synchronous motor with a belt drive sending 8.6 HP and a little over 18 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheel. That's shod in a dual-compound Maxxis tire with harder rubber in the middle to boost range and softer sides for better traction. The removable battery is about 20 pounds and packed with the same 18650 lithium-ion cells that Tesla uses, and at just over 200 pounds the Gogoro is good for 0-30 MPH run of a little over four seconds and tops out at 60 MPH. Range is around 60 miles, but that won't be an issue if the company pulls of its battery-swapping scheme.
The idea is to have dozens of battery stations placed throughout a city. Walk up, swipe your fob, swap your used battery for a new one, shove it in your scooter and go. The whole process, according to the company, will take less than 10 seconds, and when you've depleted one battery, you reserve another, just grab it from the "GoStation" – which houses eight packs and can be daisy-chained to accommodate more – and you're on your way.
But Gogoro doesn't just want these stations to be used just for scooters. They're thinking broader, with batteries that are rented to power everything from cars to bikes to leaf blowers. You basically buy the bike and then rent the battery, similar to what BetterPlace attempted, and then failed.
Where Gogoro might succeed is in the scooter-mad world of Asia, but pushing in big U.S. cities is part of the plan. But right now it's not offering any hard details. No price. No availability. No dates. Which doesn't exactly instill much confidence.