CES 2015: Taiwanese company Gogoro has revealed what it describes as the "world's first Smartscooter", with a network of battery-swapping stations that could allow its power cells to be changed in just six seconds (+ movie).
Gogoro revealed the two-wheeled emission-free vehicle yesterday at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, as well as announcing plans to implement a network of battery cell stations throughout major cities around the world.
The company said that the scooter was aimed at commuters in big cities that are struggling to cope with growing populations and pollution problems.
"With the world's megacities at a tipping point in population density, pollution fallout and rapid expansion, it is essential that we reimagine the energy infrastructure and create a renewed mindset for change in tomorrow's urban generation," said Luke Horace, co-founder and CEO of Gogoro and former chief innovation officer at smartphone-maker HTC.
The Smartscooter is the first vehicle designed for the system, called the Gogoro Energy Network, which Horace said will begin construction this year and consist of battery vending machines called GoStations.
These GoStations will enable riders of the Smartscooter to quickly change battery when running low on power without having to wait around during the charging process. The company said switching batteries could take as little as six seconds.
"The Smartscooter and Gogoro Energy Network will capture the hearts of the next generation and become a catalyst for more efficient, cleaner, and smarter energy choices in our cities," said Horace.
The design of the scooter itself is intended enhance its efficiency, handling, acceleration and riding range. A compact motor delivers drive to the rear wheel and has been designed to stay cooler for longer than usual in similar vehicles. This will help reduce energy loss, maximising each of the battery cell's power usage.
The scooter's chassis is formed from racing-grade aluminium that is both lightweight and strong.
The combination of the lightweight chassis, motor and battery cell positioning, as well as a racing suspension "inspired by jet-fighter landing gear" enables the Smartscooter to achieve an equal balance when the rider is in position.
The Smartscooter also features 30 onboard sensors to collect travel, performance and location data, cloud connectivity and a mobile application.
Data is automatically shared with an accompanying app, and can later be analysed by the rider to track details such as top speed and power consumption, while also offering real-time updates on the closest GoStation and the performance of the scooter.
"This is the start of an industry," continued Horace. "Our products and business model will impact a variety of consumer areas to create a metropolitan ecosystem with better connectivity, easier access to energy and a more enjoyable urban living experience."
The practicality of powering electric vehicles has previously been an obstacle in convincing the public to switch over from petrol. Short battery life can prevent vehicles from being able to run without regular use of charging stations.
Gogoro is not the only company attempting to offer a solution. Electric car manufacturer Tesla recently announced that it had dramatically increased the driving range of the battery for its upgraded Roadster, allowing it to potentially be used for long journeys.