The world's population is expected to hit 11 billion people by 2100, and the majority of those people will live in cities. Providing clean urban transportation is critical to fighting climate change and securing a healthy, sustainable future for urban dwellers - and new startup Gogoro just unveiled a zippy electric scooter and a revolutionary battery swapping system that could bring a sea change in the global adoption of electric vehicles. The Smartscooter is fast, fun and efficient - and Gogoro's battery-swapping GoStations can give it a full charge in six seconds flat. Inhabitat recently met with founders Horace Luke and Matt Taylor to give you a first look at this exciting new technology - read on for all the deets and our exclusive photos!
Sprawling mega-cities in Asia, such as Jakarta, Beijing, Taipei, are already full of scooters as the primary mode of personal transport, and the air quality is notoriously unhealthy for these urban dwellers, mainly because the majority of the vehicles have such bad emissions standards. Clean, affordable, easy-to-charge electric scooters would go a long way towards alleviating this massive problem of air-pollution in Asian mega-cities.
According to the UN, half of humanity (3.5 billion people) currently live in cities – and that figure is set to grow to 60% by 2030. As the world’s population booms and cities become more crowded, the issues of transportation, air pollution, and sustainability are of utmost importance.
Electric vehicles can address all of these issues, however they take a long time to charge, infrastructure is not yet widely available, and most people can’t afford a Tesla – so Gogoro founders Horace Luke and Matt Taylor set out to offer a better solution that is accessible to the majority of city dwellers. Enter the Gogoro Energy Network and the Smartscooter.
The Gogoro Energy Network
Range anxiety is real – most electric vehicles take hours to recharge, and EV stations are few and far between. Companies like Tesla and Better Place (now defunct) have developed battery swapping stations that give electric vehicles a full charge in minutes instead of hours, however the technology is difficult to scale and hasn’t reached prime time – yet.
The Gogoro Energy Network is envisioned as a dense, connected array of GoStations – ATM-sized battery swap stations that can give EV drivers a full charge in six seconds flat. Using a GoStation is a snap – a driver simply grabs batteries from their vehicle, pops them into a GoStation, and the station ejects a fresh set of batteries. A single GoStation contains six batteries at any given time, and the stations’ modular design allows them to be chained together to create bigger battery banks.
The GoStations’ small size means that they can be quickly and easily deployed to blanket an entire city, and they don’t require any special infrastructure to set up – a single 15 amp station runs on about as much energy as big refrigerator. Gogoro is targeting a density of 1.6 stations per square mile, so the average distance between each station would be around .8 miles.
Scooters are a natural fit for urban transportation – they’re inexpensive, easy to operate, and parking is a breeze. However the scooter industry has been static for the past few decades and the vast majority of two wheelers run on polluting, non-renewable fossil fuels. Luke and Taylor set out to develop an electric scooter that can meet or beat the performance of the 125cc – the most popular class of scooter on the market – and thus the Smartscooter was born.
The Gogoro Smartscooter is built from the ground-up with 100% new parts – including the motor, frame, suspension, bolts, batteries, and braking system. It can go from 0-31 mph in 4.2 seconds, it has a max speed of 60 mph, and it can travel over 60 miles before its batteries are expended.
The Smartscooter weighs in at a scant 207.2 pounds thanks to its ultralight chassis, which is sculpted from aerospace-grade aluminum. It’s tuned for performance with a racing suspension and perfect 50/50 balance between the front and rear wheels, and it can pull off some impressive feats of agility (like a 48.5 degree lean while cornering).
The Smartscooter’s G1 Motor is a marvel in and of itself – Luke says that it’s one of the world’s highest performance density motors. The fluid-cooled, smoothly sculpted device is about the size of a football, and it has a max output of 8.58 hp at 4,000 rpm with 25 Nm of torque at 0-2,250 rpm.
The vehicle also has some unique tricks up its sleeve – the entire chassis lifts up to provide access for easy repairs, it has 30 onboard sensors that connect to the cloud (more on that later), and it’s rated to IPX7 water resistance – so you could throw it in a swimming pool and it’d still work. A Philips SmartBrite LED headlight, a wireless starter, attachment points for baskets, racks, and other accessories, and a bevy of customizable features (including dashboard color, throttle control and regenerative braking) round out the vehicle.
Connectivity is key
Every aspect of Gogoro‘s technology is connected so that it all works together seamlessly – and the Gogoro iQ System App is the brains of the operation. The smartphone app connects with 30 sensors in the Smartscooter, gathering riding data ten times a second to maximize performance. The app can also locate the nearest battery swap station and reserve a pair of cells for pickup, it can alert riders if a vehicle needs servicing, and it can call for help if the vehicle’s tip sensor detects that it has fallen over.
The Gogoro Battery
The Gogoro Battery uses state of the art Panasonic 18650 lithium-ion energy cells – the same type of cells found in the Tesla Model S. Each battery is completely sealed save for two exterior terminals, and batteries can be inserted into a GoStation in any direction. The batteries are rated to run at full capacity for 500 cycles (about 5 years), after which they’ll last for 1000 cycles at 50% to 75% capacity.
Rather than discarding old batteries, Gogoro has come up with a brilliant plan to reuse sub-prime cells as energy storage systems for buildings, server farms, renewable generators, and other applications. A single battery can power a house for an hour at typical load, a rack of 40 servers for 20 minutes, a laptop for 25 hours, or 125 60w equivalent LED bulbs for an hour.
As of press date, Gogoro is still finalizing pricing on the Smartscooter and its battery infrastructure plan. They are targeting an affordable price point for the scooter, and they are considering offering a monthly Gogoro Energy Network plan with unlimited battery swaps and roadside assistance. The initial rollout of the Smartscooter and the Gogoro Energy Network is planned for 2015, and the team is currently in talks with cities around the world to determine the best fit for launch. Stay tuned to Inhabitat as we bring you the latest!