If any western city is synonymous with bikes, it’s Amsterdam. That could make it a good place for transportation startup Gogoro to pull its first move beyond its native Taiwan.
Gogoro announced today that it will launch its funky electric scooters in Amsterdam in the first half of 2016. That means the startup must also build a charging network for its e-bikes where owners can swap packs to get a fully-charged battery. The smart scooters will hit additional European cities later in 2016.
The startup last week secured US$130 million in series B funding, with investors including battery cell supplier Panasonic.
My teammate Erik Crouch was in Taipei last month and took this video of a Gogoro battery-swap station:
The Gogoro Smartscooter first launched in Taipei this summer after years of development on both the bikes and the battery network. In Taiwan, the scooter costs NT$128,000 (US$4,140), making it pricier than the island’s ubiquitous and noisy gasoline-powered scooters, but the firm claims that the requisite monthly subscription to the charging network – coupled with Taiwanese government subsidies for electric bike buyers – makes running costs lower than for gas-guzzling scooters in the long-run.
While Amsterdam seems like a great spot for Gogoro, the Taiwanese startup faces a host of challenges. For one, it won’t be competing against a US$2,500 Suzuki scooter in Amsterdam – it’ll be up against a dirt-cheap bicycle. Plus, can the Smartscooter secure subsidies from authorities in the Netherlands to make the price less prohibitive?
Furthermore, an electric scooter won’t feel so novel in the city because the Netherlands is one of the countries leading the way in building charging infrastructure for electric cars. Plug-in hybrids cars are fairly common, and there are schemes from automakers for leasing electric cars.
Between plenty of space for cyclists and an array of incentives for electric car ownership, the country is not exactly crying out for a novel eco-friendly solution.
Tesla is another electric vehicle startup that’s getting cosy with the environmentally-conscious Dutch. The automaker’s only non-US factory is in Tilburg, Netherlands, allowing it to nearly double European production this year.
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