Gogoro – a One Billion Dollar Unicorn from Taiwan that Wants to Be the Tesla of Scooters
You have, probably, never heard on Gogoro. One of Taiwan’s most exciting and innovative startups and the first unicorn (over 1 BN$ market valuation). Well, you should – they are revolutionizing the scooter industry the way Tesla revolutionized the car industry. Gogoro recently rolled out their electric scooter, the Gogoro 2 Smartscooter, and it’s really smart.
Their concept is exciting, and like a two years old company, the results are amazing. Their scooter is well-designed, colorful and electric and above all – smart. It is an emission-free scooter, targeted for the crowded, congested and polluted cities, the challenging reality of most modern big cities.
An interesting article on Gogoro.
The core idea of the new electric scooter is the battery and the charging station network. As we all know the main challenge of the electric vehicles is the relatively limited traveling distance and the long charging time. Gogoro approached that challenge by innovating together with Panasonic a brand new battery, the Lithium Ion 18650 battery. The depleted batteries can be swapped in a matter of seconds or so, much less time required to refuel your scooter.
Together with the new battery, they have innovated a network of recharging stations used to swap empty batteries with fully charged ones quickly. Instead of plugging in your battery to recharge, you just quickly replace the battery. Riders are offered a monthly subscription fee for that service.
The charging station, like a vending machine, holds four rows of 10 batteries each. They already have 350 charging stations in Taipei (they claim that you can find a station less than every 1.3 km, and plan to add many more charging stations. Those compact stations, like gas stations, can be deployed anywhere. They already started to install the charging stations in many more cities and countries.
If we remember the popularity of this transportation mode in many Asian countries, we can understand the huge potential of Gogoro. They also have plans to extend the usage of their batteries. According to Gogoro, a charged battery at 50% to 75% capacity can power a house for an hour, a laptop for 25 hours, a home furnace for an evening, or server rack with 40 servers for 20 minutes.
Let’s focus shortly on the “smart” elements of Gogoro, the digital technologies they have used for their innovative scooter, a network of charging stations and mobile applications. In many ways, they are less a vehicle company and much more a technology company.
- There are 30 sensors on the scooter including a digital compass, a shock sensor, and a thermal sensor. The Gogoro Smartscooter can analyze riding patterns, optimize energy use, and dim its lights when necessary to maximize energy. Every 10 minutes, the scooter uploads information on its condition online.
- Riders can download sound effects and lighting patterns to customize their scooters further. Everything creative and versatile can be done through its smartphone app.
- Gogoro mobile application enables many functionalities. Some are: where is the closest charging station; where have you parked the scooter; dual dashboard – on the scooter and on the mobile; scooter condition display; 256 bit digitally encrypted and fingerprint authenticated (it makes the scooter almost unstealable) mobile app that reminds when maintenance is needed and helps you schedule an appointment at one of the Gogoro Service Center.
- Smart scooter power management that maximizes your range by generating energy back into the batteries when slowing down. Digital throttle with Sports Activation that takes riders from 0-50 km/h in 4.3 seconds; SBS braking that delivers simultaneous braking force to the front and rear wheels and automatically balancing stopping force to reduce slips when hard braking or during panic stops, and much more digital innovations.
- Gogoro uses digital technologies to manage the charging station, quantity of available and charged batteries, allocation of batteries to customers and more.
Gogoro is a great example of a company that uses technology to disrupt the scooter industry. They have augmented the physical product (the scooter) into a smart product by using digital technologies (sensors, fully digital dashboard, mobile applications) and innovating concepts like a new business model (monthly subscription for charging the batteries instead of only selling scooters) and remote management of recharging stations.
We can clearly see how Gogoro used several types of digital transformations, out of the six types we described in our e-book, published in Hebrew on the e-vrit mobile app.
- From Atoms to Bits: In section 4.0.1 of Chapter 4 of our e-book, we named this kind of digital transformation as “atoms to bits transformation”, a transformation in which some products are entirely replaced by digital products (e.g., CD music, e-books, maps, photos and more) while some products are being digitally augmented (e.g., cars, home appliances, airplanes, and in our case, scooters).
- From Products to Services: Gogoro transformed a physical product into an ongoing service by using the subscription business model to generate a constant revenue flow from customers for their charging fees.
- From Business Models to Digital Business Models: Introducing a digital business model to generate revenues, opens up room for more innovative revenue generating models.