Gogoro, Bosch Join to Bring Electric Scooter Sharing to Berlinby
Taiwan startup is working with Bosch subsidiary Coup in Berlin
You can find, book and pay for scooters through a phone app
Gogoro Inc., an electric scooter-maker backed by Panasonic Corp., is joining with Robert Bosch GmbH to bring a vehicle-sharing program to Europe as the company seeks to expand beyond its home market of Taiwan.
Starting Wednesday, Berliners will be able to use a smartphone app to locate, book and pay for a battery-powered moped to zip through the city. The program is similar to public bicycle-renting programs such as City Bike in New York, but users can drop the scooter off directly at their destination without parking it at a central docking station. The startup is working with Coup, a subsidiary of German industrial technology firm Bosch, and Boston Consulting Group Digital Ventures to build the scooter-sharing software.
"This system will not only be in Berlin, but in the future also across other cities in Europe," said Chief Executive Officer Horace Luke in an interview. "Urban mobility in major cities around the world are going to be facing energy and convenience problems."
Luke and Matt Taylor, former executives at HTC Corp., founded Gogoro in 2011 and first introduced their scooters at the Consumer Electronic Show last year with an ambitious battery-swapping idea. While similar to Israel’s Better Place LLC, which went bankrupt in 2013 after attempting a similar model for electric cars, Gogoro’s swap stations are much cheaper, and the batteries are small and light enough that people can switch them by hand in seconds.
Coup is starting with 200 Gogoro scooters in Berlin, and will add more as demand warrants. Using them will cost 3 euros ($3.37) for 30 minutes, or 20 euros for the whole day.
Since Gogoro started offering its scooters in Taipei last August, the startup has sold more than 10,000 scooters in Taiwan and set up more than 225 charging stations.
Now the company has its sights set on expansion. Late last year Gogoro announced that its smart scooters and battery swapping stations were coming to Amsterdam, though they aren’t yet available there.
Urs Rahne, Coup’s general manager, describes the scooter-sharing service as a door-to-door system that solves the "ultimate last-mile" problem.
"This is a very interesting facet of where sharing is heading," he said. "Until autonomous cars come, shared fleets are the future."