Roll out the electric Smartscooters

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With Gogoro on the verge of showcasing its scooters in Europe, we look at the rise of this Tesla of the scooter world and its experience in Taiwan, the scooter capital of Asia.

Anyone who has been to Southeast Asia knows scooters are a hugely popular way of getting around.

Now, after four years of under-the-radar operations involving extensive testing, Taiwanese startup Gogoro has 2000 electric Smartscooters zipping around Taipei, the capital of an island country with 23.5 million people and 14 million scootersi. None of these ever need to be plugged in. Why? Because Gogoro envisages a huge network of battery-swapping stations to cater for drivers in heavily populated citiesii. Then, when you're running low on juice, simply pop in to a charging kiosk (GoStation) and swap your two battery packs from under your scooter's seat for fully-charged batteries. The whole process should take about six secondsiii.

Gogoro plans to have a GoStation every 1.6 kilometres. There are already 90 GoStation charging units in Taipei and riders pay monthly for the energy by subscription. The company hopes this will be as revolutionary as "what the AA battery did for the consumer electronic industry"iii.

Smartscooters can be customised to comply with certain speeds.

The first European market in Gogoro's sights is bohemian Amsterdam, a cyclist's paradise with 400 kilometres of cycle paths. In the first half of 2016, the company will showcase the Smartscooter at a "Gogoro Experience Boutique" where its technology and craftsmanship can be closely inspectediv. At the tap of a smartphone app, you can set the Smartscooter to comply with Amsterdam's different vehicle speeds for riding in city streets and bike lanesiv. It can reach 50km/h in 4.2 seconds and the top speed is 97km/hv.

With a predicted 41 "megacities" expected to spring up around the world by 2030 and the fastest urbanisation on the planet, Asiavi is often blighted with terrible air pollution due to more people being able to afford cars, industrialisation and poor environmental regulationsi. Gogoro views itself as a tech or energy solution in the region. The company's response to those who say electric vehicles just move the problem - rather than solving it - is that clean energy will probably become viable, in the long term, in emerging marketsi, but meanwhile traditional energy outside the city is probably better than the pollution caused by transport within itii.

Drop in two charged batteries within six seconds.

When you take a closer look at the Smartscooter, it's obvious that Gogoro's CEO, Horace Luke, was a smartphone designer. It has a permanent Bluetooth connection that links to a smartphone app which is the interface by which you are kept informed about everything from a low-battery to the status of the 30 sensors that detect whether a part is about to expire or alert you to any other mechanical problemsiii. You can also download various sounds for startup, traveling, shutdown and turning signalsi. You can even entertain other road-users with the LED headlights and tail lights, which can be programmed to perform custom action sequences.

iByrne, S. 2015, 'Gogoro: more than the Tesla of scooters', cnet, 9 November, viewed 18 December 2015,

iiZiegler, C. 2015, 'Meet Gogoro, the outrageous electric scooter of the future', The Verge, 5 January, viewed 18 December 2015,

iiiDeMorro, C. 2015, 'Why the gorgeous Gogoro electric scooter can't be plugged in', CleanTechnica, 8 January, viewed 18 December 2015,

ivMunzer, P. 2015, 'Launch in Europe – no emissions with Smartscooter', Ecourbanlab, 22 November, viewed 18 December 2015,

vFried, I. 2015, 'Gogoro, the Tesla of scooters, picks Amsterdam as second test city', re/code, 17 November, viewed 18 December 2015,

viUnited Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, 2014, 'World Urbanisation Prospects the 2014 Revision Highlights', viewed 21 January 2016,