Gogoro launches its electric scooters for businesses in South Korea – gpgmail


Gogoro, the Taiwanese electric vehicle and mobility platform company, announced today that it has partnered with motorcycle company TIC Corporation to bring its B2B-focused electric scooters to South Korea. Gogoro 2 Utility, a version of the company’s Smartscooters created for logistics and delivery fleets, will be available for purchase through TIC, starting in Seoul.

Today’s launch means that Gogoro is now present in six countries, including its home market of Taiwan, Germany, France, Spain and Japan. In Europe, one of Gogoro’s main partners is scooter-sharing service Coup. Its alliance with TIC Corporation in South Korea is a new step for the Gogoro because it is geared at business clients instead of consumers.

Launched in 2011, Gogoro has spent the past eight years focused on the development of its Smartscooters, which are now the top-selling electric scooters in Taiwan. Over the past few months, the company has begun unveiling its international expansion strategies, including the launch of a vehicle-sharing platform intended to serve as a turnkey solution for partners, and deals with manufacturers, including Yamaha, that will make scooters using Gogoro’s technology, including its swappable batteries.


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Segway-Ninebot’s new scooter drives to its docking station for a recharge – gpgmail


At an event in Beijing last week, Chinese scooter company Segway-Ninebot Group unveiled a trio of new products. The most compelling of the bunch was no doubt the KickScooter T60, which harnesses AI to drive itself back to the charging station.

The company says it will start piloting the products next quarter, with a timeline for commercialization realized some time early next year. “The pain point for scooter operators is to better maintain the scooters at a lower cost,” Ninebot chairman Gao Lufeng told Reuters in an interview tied to the event.

Cost is an interesting point here, given that a “smart” scooter would be priced considerably higher at around $1,400 — several times the price of its more basic units. But the executive’s statement factors in the cost of having to manually collect scooters to recharge them. Obviously managing the two different factors will be a bit of a balancing act for scooter operators.

In an age when delivery robots have become something of a hot-button topic amongst various city councils, there’s also a question of sidewalk legality for a self-driving vehicle — even one designed to drive relatively short distances.

The company hasn’t offered much detail, but a video that has since appeared on YouTube shows a fleet of T60s in action. In the short promotional video, the scooters appear to be semi-autonomous, with an employee controlling them remotely via desktop computer.

Ninebot also used the opportunity to debut a pair of delivery robots for indoor and outdoor settings.


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Local governments are forcing the scooter industry to grow up fast – gpgmail


Gone are the days when tech companies can deploy their services in cities without any regard for rules and regulations. Before the rise of electric scooters, cities had already become hip to tech’s status quo (thanks to the likes of Uber and Lyft) and were ready to regulate. We explored some of this in “The uncertain future of shared scooters,” but since then, new challenges have emerged for scooter startups.

And for scooter startups, city regulations can make or break their businesses across nearly every aspect of operations, especially two major ones: ridership growth and ability to attract investor dollars. From issuing permits to determining how many scooters any one company can operate at any one time to enforcing low-income plans and impacting product roadmaps, the ball is really in the city’s court.


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Skip scooters are returning to Washington, DC after battery fires – gpgmail


Following battery issues and a single-alarm fire caused by improperly disposed of batteries in Washington, D.C., Skip has been given the green light to resume operations in Washington, D.C. and the surrounding areas of Alexandria and Arlington. The plan is to redeploy the scooters in the coming weeks.

In June, a battery on one of Skip’s scooters caught fire in D.C., prompting the company to ground its scooters in both D.C. and San Francisco. The scooter in question was found with its external battery on fire, which caused “minor damage” to a wall nearby. In light of that incident, Skip identified other potential at-risk batteries and quarantined them in its warehouse.

“In DC, they weren’t disposed of properly, which helped create the right conditions for a single-alarm fire,” Skip wrote in a blog post. “After the incident, DDOT asked us to suspend operations. Frankly, that was the right call. We didn’t just let our cities and riders down, we let ourselves down.”

Since then, Skip says it has consulted with battery experts and OSHA compliance firms to put in place new procedures and operations around handling and disposing of damaged equipment. Now, Skip has real-time monitoring and alerting for battery and vehicle issues to ensure batteries are disposed of before exhibiting any safety issues. Among other steps, Skip is now reporting its handling of batteries and employee injuries to the District Department of Transportation.

Skip is not the only micromobility company that has experienced issues with battery fires. Last month, a couple of Lyft’s electric bike batteries caught on fire in San Francisco, prompting the company to pull its bikes from the streets. Late last year, Lime recalled some of its Ninebot scooters due to fire concerns.

And battery fires do not only affect electric bikes and scooters. You may remember the year of the exploding hoverboards, as well as exploding smartphones and laptops. What all of those have in common are lithium-ion batteries, which are very commonly used for portable electronics and now, personal electric vehicles. The downside to these types of batteries is potential overheating, which can lead to a failure mode called “thermal runaway” and result in a battery fire.

Other potential issues that can lead to battery failure are bad design and the mere fact that scooters can be banged around by users. In the case of Skip, the issue seemed to fall on the latter.

“The investigation found the main cause to be physical damage, but it was not able to determine whether the damage was intentional or unintentional,” a Skip spokesperson told gpgmail.

Given the amount of scrutiny all of these companies are under, coupled with their reliance on approval from cities, the likes of Skip, Lyft and Lime need to make sure their respective safety procedures are buttoned up if they want to thrive in this space.


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Ford-owned Spin is bringing a tougher electric scooter to dozens of cities – gpgmail


Spin, the electric scooter company acquired by a Ford subsidiary for around $100 million, is launching a new electric scooter with a sturdier frame, improved braking system, bigger tires and longer-range battery.

In short, this third-generation product is built to handle the kind of abuse that a shared dockless scooter is subjected to on a daily basis. It’s also designed to be more secure. The company has added custom security screws that were developed to thwart vandalism and tampering.

The design improvements should improve the riding experience and, in theory, attract more customers. However, more customers is only one important piece of the scooter game. Gross profit margin is the other.

This third-generation is built to have a longer life, a key factor in improving the unit economics of the dockless scooter business.spin third gen side view

Spin launched a pilot program in June to test the new scooters in Baltimore. The pilot showed “promising results for increasing gross profit margin, while decreasing costs associated with theft and vandalism,” according to the company.

“In our testing of the next edition Spin scooter, we have seen a significant increase in utilization and our customers are taking more rides and traveling longer distances,” co-founder and COO Zaizhuang Cheng said in a statement.

The third-edition Spin scooter has 10-inch tires, a feature meant to better absorb shock from potholes and other rough road conditions. Other features include a wider and longer platform, a battery with 37.5 miles of range and and an upgraded authentication system. The company also revealed a new logo as part of a brand refresh across its scooters, app and website.

spin third gen brakes

 

Spin, which is housed under the automaker’s subsidiary Ford Smart Mobility LLC, will deploy the new scooter next month in Berkeley, Calif., Denver, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Memphis, Minneapolis and Washington, D.C. Other U.S. cities will be added in the future.

Spin has been ramping up across the U.S. The company is the exclusive operator in 11 markets and has more than quadrupled the number of dockless scooter markets in which it operates to 47 cities and college campuses.

Its aim is to be in 100 cities and college campuses by the end of the year.


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