A San Francisco startup backed by the billionaire co-founder of HTC Corp. (2498)is promoting an electric scooter for city commuters that features a recharging system that failed to catch on for battery-powered cars.
Gogoro Inc. is unveiling its Smartscooter today at the Consumer Electronics Showin Las Vegas. It can go more than 60 miles (97 kilometers) without recharging and will be available for sale this year, said Chief Executive Officer Horace Luke.
The company is also developing kiosks where drivers can swap drained battery packs for fresh ones, a task that’s much faster than recharging them, Luke said. He expects the scooters to catch on in large cities, especially in Asia.
The world’s biggest cities are “at a tipping point in population density, pollution fallout and rapid expansion,” Luke said in a statement. “It is essential that we reimagine the energy infrastructure.” He declined to discuss prices for the scooter.
Luke was previously chief innovation officer at Taiwan’s HTC, and the mobile-phone company’s Chairwoman Cher Wang has invested in Gogoro. She and her husband Wenchi Chen are listed together as the 23rd richest people in Taiwan with a net worth of $1.6 billion, according to Forbes.
Gogoro’s battery swapping model is similar to that of Israel’s Better Place LLC, which went bankrupt in 2013. Drivers of electric cars could exchange drained power packs for fresh ones at Better Place charging stations, which had automated systems to transfer the components.
Gogoro’s kiosks are about the size of a vending machine, and the batteries are small and light enough that people can switch them by hand, in less than a minute, Luke said.
Tesla Motors Inc. began testing a battery swapping system for its cars in California last month. Both Tesla and Gogoro use batteries from Panasonic Corp.