‘Game Changer’ electric moped batteries spread from Taiwan across Asia
Every day, Aiden Lee joins the hundreds of thousands of people who get around Taipei on two wheels.
But when most of his fellow riders head to a gas pump to fill up, he takes his electric motorcycle to one of Taiwan’s increasingly common battery swapping stations – a technology that, according to its creators, could accelerate the transition to fossil fuels.
“Honestly, if there hadn’t been a battery swap – which by the way is even faster than refueling at a gas station – I wouldn’t be riding an e-bike,” said the marketing manager.
“I don’t think I have time to wait for the battery to charge.”
Lee has been using rechargeable batteries provided by Taiwanese startup Gogoro since 2015, which puts him among 450,000 subscribers who swap out an average of 330,000 batteries every day, according to company figures.
He says it costs about 10% more than buying gas each month.
Now eyeing regional expansion and a listing in New York, Gogoro has more than 2,300 stations outside convenience stores or in parking lots across Taiwan, where e-moped riders stop to swap dead batteries for cells. freshly loaded.
Previous attempts to deploy battery swaps have proven tricky, especially for electric cars.
Companies in China, the United States and Israel have struggled to provide easy access to interchangeable batteries for electric cars, in part because of the high cost of building charging facilities and the time required to charge much larger cells.
But the technology works best for mopeds, said Gogoro founder and chief executive Horace Luke, because the batteries and stations don’t need to be as big.
“Instead of the four-wheeled infrastructure that has to be built, our system is really like a vending machine that goes to different places depending on where the consumer is going and where the consumer needs energy,” he said.
Facilities already outnumber gas stations in four major Taiwanese cities, the company said, and Vice Chairman Alan Pan told a news conference last week that the company’s 2022 target was to “exceed the number of gas stations in the whole island”.
With more than 240 million battery swaps since 2015, Gogoro claims to have kept around 360,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.
“We are working on solutions that… are creating a new industry as the world now turns to sustainability and how to curb global warming and climate change,” Luke told AFP in an interview.
According to government sales figures, e-bikes make up 21% of all motorcycles in Taiwan, with sales of traditional gasoline-powered models seeing double-digit declines every year.
India, China, Indonesia
Luke said that through local partnerships, Gogoro is poised to expand into the world’s biggest motorcycle markets: China, India and Indonesia – all countries with smog-choked cities. .
The company has partnered with top industry players including India’s Hero MotoCorp, the world’s largest motorcycle manufacturer, Chinese global leader in e-bikes Yadea, and most recently Indonesian public transport company Gojek. .
In China, its battery swap system was launched in October in the city of Hangzhou, with plans to expand to other locations this year.
The push could benefit from major government incentives for electric vehicles in giant Asian countries.
Last year, India rolled out $3.5 billion in automotive incentives to boost production of electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, while Indonesia offered tax breaks to manufacturers, transport companies and consumers.
Gogoro plans to list on Nasdaq in the first quarter of this year through a merger with a special purpose acquisition company, creating an entity valued at $2.35 billion.
Global sales of electric motorcycles, scooters and mopeds are estimated to have topped 25 million units in 2020, or 35% of total two-wheeled vehicle sales, according to BloombergNEF.
And market research firm Guidehouse Insights claims that “battery swapping has become a legitimate technology platform solution that is being exported to OEMs in overseas markets.”
Southeast Asian countries “with strong two-wheeler cultures, high urban density rates, favorable policy frameworks for electric vehicles and a strong desire to reduce urban air pollution are likely to be next,” said he said in a report.
Luke added: “I think the drum swap was a real game-changer and a real game-changer.”