Horace Luke is the CEO and co-founder of Gogoro, a company that makes electric two-wheelers and a network of swappable rechargeable electric vehicle battery stations that are now as common as gas stations in Taiwan. Luke formerly held executive and director roles at HTC and Microsoft, where he contributed to the development of the original Xbox.
What drove Gogoro to build the swappable battery network operating on a subscription model, rather than focusing solely on manufacturing electric vehicles?
Gogoro started with a vision for creating a sustainable alternative refueling system for two-wheel transportation in densely populated cities. With more than 500 million two-wheel vehicles in Asia, it is very challenging – if not impossible – for riders to charge at home or work because there isn’t dedicated parking or time to charge. Gogoro needed to provide a smart electric solution that was easy, fast, safe, and accessible. Battery swapping was the solution, so we created the Gogoro Network.
The network enables urban riders to simply stop at a station, drop off their depleted batteries, and pick up fully charged ones in a matter of seconds. This is an alternative to trying to charge at home or work. Streamlined refueling enables Gogoro to deploy and scale throughout densely populated cities as customer demand requires, with greater efficiency.
Battery swapping as a subscription service removes the cost of the battery – which can be 30% of the total cost of an electric vehicle – from what the customer pays. It ensures that riders always have access to optimized, high-performance batteries, versus owning a battery that has diminishing performance. The batteries are smart, and because we own all of the batteries and the battery swapping network, we are able to monitor every battery to ensure it is operating efficiently and safely and can anticipate issues before they occur.
What was it about Taiwan that made it the place you chose to pilot the Gogoro network?
There were three main reasons for choosing Taiwan as our headquarters and pilot market. First, the supply chain is like nowhere else in the world and provides access to all our R&D and manufacturing needs. Second, with 14 million scooters for 23 million people, Taiwan is one of the densest two-wheel markets in the world. Third, people in Taiwan regularly embrace new technologies.
Can you tell us about Gogoro’s strategy to partner with other two-wheeler makers, like Yamaha and Yadea?
When Gogoro first began, we didn’t anticipate becoming a vehicle maker, we [were] focused on creating a battery swapping system that could work with existing vehicle makers. We struggled to find interest, so we decided to design and manufacture our Smartscooter. But we continued to fundamentally believe in an open ecosystem approach similar to how Android works with phone manufacturers. Through our Powered By Gogoro Network program, we enable our vehicle maker partners to design their own two- and three-wheel vehicles that integrate with Gogoro battery swapping. As we enter new markets we focus on partnering with local industry leaders: Yadea and Dachangjiang in China, Hero MotoCorp in India., and GoTo Gojek in Indonesia.
What’s next in terms of Gogoro’s plans to expand into other markets?
In Taiwan we have supported more than 315 million battery swaps since we launched in 2015 and today average more than 350,000 battery swaps a day, with nearly 500,000 monthly subscribers. Our experience in Taiwan demonstrated how a battery swapping ecosystem can work at scale.
We are beginning to roll out Gogoro battery swapping in the region, in China, Indonesia, and India. And we’re launching in Tel Aviv soon in partnership with two market leaders, Metro Motor and Paz, to bring our battery swapping ecosystem to that market.