GoGoRo SmartScooter

Key Features

  • Review Price: £0.00

GoGoRo SmartScooter – First Look

GoGoRo really captured the world’s imagination when it unveiled its

electric scooter at the CES show in January this year. Here was an

electric vehicle that not only looked cool but never needed charging

either.

By using a swappable battery technology, users can

simply ride up to a GoGoRo power station and swap the bike’s two

batteries for fresh ones.

Based in Taiwan – a land of 24million

people and 18 million scooters – the company is shortly set to launch

its first trial run, installing 80 battery stations around the city and

building thousands of bikes.

So, while out at Computex, we headed over to the company’s

flagship store in central Taipei to find out whether the SmartScooter

is the future of two-wheeled transport, and perhaps more importantly

whether GoGoRo’s swappable battery tech is the future for all transport.

GoGoRo – it’s all about the batteries

Although the

SmartScooter itself is a key part of what will eventually be the GoGoRo

experience, the heart of the vision is the swappable battery technology

that will power them.

The idea is users will be able to ride up

to battery stations and simply swap their spent batteries for freshly

charged ones. Swapping batteries takes just six seconds, with the system

automatically sensing you’ve inserted the old batteries

into the charging station and popping out two fresh ones for you to use.

GoGoRo SmartScooter

The 9kg, weatherproof batteries can be inserted in any

direction and there’s no latches to undo or bolts to remove. Just pull

them out and drop them in.

A pair of batteries will power the

scooter for between 30 and 60 miles, or what the company predicts will

be around 3 days of use for a typical user in its launch city of Taipei.

The is plan is that 80 charging stations will be installed around the city, with the idea being that every two blocks there will be a station.

The

whole system is linked into the smart systems in the scooter, with

information sent straight to your phone to let you know your range and

the nearest/best charging station to aim for.

GoGoRo SmartScooter
    
Each battery

takes several hours to charge, with the company being able to tailor the

charging speed according to user demand as well as the optimal time for

lowest electricity costs and lowest demand times for overall

electricity usage.

Indeed GoGoRo hinted at what might be next for the company by pointing out it would like to use its technology to help the overall distribution of power throughout the city, filling in gaps when there are outages and sucking up excess power when demand is low. It might need a few more than 80 stations before that’s a reality, though.

GoGoRo also aims to optimise the number of

batteries at each charging station to ensure those with low demand aren’t

left underutilised while busy stations are constantly left with

under-charged batteries.

Users will pay an as yet undisclosed

regular fee to use the service, on top of the purchase price of the

bike. However, crucially – and most controversially – there won’t be any option for

users charging either the scooter or the individual batteries

themselves, so if you’re caught short with no battery in the middle of

nowhere, there’s no way to get yourself back on the road.

GoGoRo SmartScooter
GoGoRo uses the same Panasonic cells as in Tesla vehicles

It’s

this combination of factors that very much marks the GoGoRo project out

as a unique service that sits somewhere between normal user-owned

electric vehicles and a public urban transportation system like the

Boris Bike or Taipai’s own ubike.

Still, in a world where there are 37

megacities of over 10 million people, there’s huge potential for solving

one of the world’s major transportation problems, even if the GoGoRo

system isn’t best suited for the open road.

GoGoRo – the SmartScooter

GoGoRo’s

first battery-powered product, then, is the SmartScooter. About the

size of a conventional 50cc scooter, from initial impression it

may not obviously be battery-powered but there’s clearly a futuristic

vibe about it that instantly brings to mind many other electric and

hybrid vehicles.

The aluminium wheels and underbelly combined

with the sweeping lines of the light grey and white plastic body clearly

set it apart from your more typical scooter, and that’s before you’ve

even seen the fancy electronic dash and snazzy starter system.

GoGoRo SmartScooter

Activated

by a Bluetooth keyfob that you can clip to the wing mirror, the bike

springs into life with a nightrider flash of its rear tail light, and

chirps your chosen tune at you while the dash will illuminate in your favourite colour – all selected via the app on your phone.

The dash is one large, bright LCD, with huge displays for the battery level

indicators and your speed, plus a host of other useful information is

dotted around. It’s a far cry from the basic mechanical dials of most scooters.

GoGoRo SmartScooter

There are clear marks of quality elsewhere too.

The headlights are the same Philips lamps as on the Porsche GT3, while under

the swappable front panel care has been taken to ensure that all the key fuses are

situated under one neat panel alongside the bike’s auxiliary batteries.

Take the seat off and the quality stamped-aluminium chassis is

revealed along with the compact, water-cooled drive unit. Tucked inside the wheels there are also disc brakes for a further premium touch that benefits

weight and stopping performance.

Indeed GoGoRo makes strong

claims for the bikes performance, pointing out that the use of an

electric motor means it’s packed with torque, making it quick off the

line. It’ll also go up to 95km/h or 60mph.

GoGoRo SmartScooter

Sadly we weren’t

given the opportunity to ride the bike – not least because this writer

has never ridden a motorbike/scooter before – but were given a

demonstration of it in action, and it certainly looked nippy and agile.

The addition of a reverse gear is also a significant boon.

Stopping

power also impressed, though the propensity for it to skid suggests

either a little fine tuning of the break/tyre balance is required or ABS

should be fitted.

Sitting atop the bike, it felt a little small

for this writer’s six foot two inch frame, and the seat is a little

rounded and forward sloping making it feel a little less secure than

more traditional flat-seated scooters.

GoGoRo SmartScooter

Still, the SmartScooter certainly feels largely suited to its task,

particularly in the sense that, like Tesla, GoGoRo knows its early

customers will be wealthier and will want the feel of a premium product.

Although pricing is yet to be announced, we suspect widespread adoption

of the GoGoRo system will almost certainly require a cheaper option.

GoGoRo SmartScooter – Early Verdict

The

GoGoRo SmartScooter looks well set to make a big splash in those cities

where scooter use is already massive. Its combination of being a

convenient electric option that’s also high-performance and has a

premium feel will instantly appeal to the more affluent

scooter users of today’s megacities.

Whether the system will be

truly scalable so that it’s affordable for the majority of scooter users

is hard to say. Moreover we still wonder just how well suited a

swappable-battery system will be for different vehicle types, as compared to the more universal

approach of Tesla, where vehicles simply charge up wherever they can.

All that said, GoGoRo is doing a lot right and it’s great to see another company really pushing the possibilities for electric vehicles, whether for the open road or the inner city.

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