As our society focuses more and more on energy efficiency with each passing year, it is natural that the “smart” vehicle revolution has begun to gain traction. First it was the “smart car,” which typically took the form of small electrical or battery powered vehicles that eschewed traditional gasoline in general. Now that idea is becoming even more portable with the “smart scooter,” which is a small scooter that essentially operates on the same principle. A well-funded startup called Gogoro recently unveiled its new e-scooter to the world at CES 2015. Perhaps more impressive than the scooter itself was the startup’s idea to install vending machine-like “battery stations” in urban areas across the country.
The idea itself is relatively straightforward. Instead of returning home to charge your battery or trying to find the nearest charging station (like you currently do with an electric car), you would drive your smart scooter to the nearest vending machine parts distribution location and pick up a new battery. Your new battery would be fully charged and you could continue on your way. Your old battery would remain behind and would be charged for the next person who needed to use it.
The idea has begun to take hold in the wake of the “mega city” and its rise in prominence not just in the United States, but in countries all over the world. Mega cities are described as those with over 10 million residents. In 1990 there were 10. In 2014 there were 28. According to the United Nations, that number is expected to increase to 41 by 2030.
Vending machines are ideal for this type of situation because of the large amount of different processes that can be easily automated. The only major factor that companies would have to deal with manually would be vending machine repair, but that will still cost only a fraction of what it would to man battery distribution stations with real people.
Gogoro’s e-scooter is dubbed the Smartscooter and it runs on two lithium-ion battery packs that are stored under the driver’s seat. The company has already raised more than $50 million dollars for its ambitious plan from just two Taiwanese investors. They aim to raise $100 million more in the near future. This will all be great news to the more than 200 million people who are riding scooters all around the world in 2015, which is also a number that is likely to increase in the near future.