Technology

Electric scooter with swappable batteries hits market

Gogoro Image copyright Gogoro
Image caption Gogoro says riders will be able to swap batteries in seconds

An electric scooter with swappable batteries is to go on sale in Taiwan priced $4,140 (£2,600).

The Smartscooter, made by Gogoro, would be available for pre-order in Taipei from 27 June, the company announced.

Riders will be able to change batteries at a number of Gogoro charging stations around the city.

But this will be the only way they can recharge the scooters, leaving owners tied to the manufacturer's network and pricing plans.

As part of the initial offer, Smartscooter owners will receive one year's theft insurance, two years of free maintenance, and two years' unlimited access to the battery charging stations.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption In scooter-mad Taiwan, there are about 15 million scooters for a population of 23 million

The hi-tech Smartscooter runs on two easily removable batteries that give it a range of about 60 miles (97km).

It can be integrated with a smartphone and features customisable sounds as well as a digital display.

But Gogoro has not yet said how much it plans to charge for the batteries once the two-year special offer period is up.

And the firm will have to hope buyers are primarily driven by a desire to help the environment, as the price is much higher than many fuel-powered alternatives.

Gogoro chairman and co-founder, Horace Luke, said his company wanted to "demonstrate to the world the leadership behind smart energy and smart transportation".

He said the scooter's reception by Taiwanese citizens had been "phenomenal" so far.

Scooter is the primary mode of transport on the densely populated island - there are about 15 million for 23 million citizens.

So it is not surprising that the company, founded by two former executives from mobile phone company HTC with $150m of backing from Taiwanese investors, has decided to roll out its operation there.

The Smartscooter's success will depend upon Gogoro's ability to build a convenient charging network, and the willingness of Taiwanese citizens to stump up the hefty price and tie themselves to one company.

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