Gogoro scales battery swapping to new markets via B2B partners

Taiwanese electric vehicle battery-swapping provider Gogoro is planning to enter Singapore via a pilot with online grocery and food delivery platform, Foodpanda.

The pilot is small-scale for now — only two battery swapping stations with 20 Gogoro-branded Smartscooters — but it is the latest in a string of B2B partnerships that Gogoro has tapped to enter new geographies.

When Gogoro went public last year via a merger with special purpose acquisition company Poema Global, CEO Horace Luke told TechCrunch that a big part of the company’s expansion strategy was partnering with local manufacturers to build electric two-wheelers with Gogoro’s swappable batteries. This would allow Gogoro’s core technology, the battery-swapping infrastructure, to expand quicker outside of Taiwan by sidestepping the need to ship Gogoro-made e-scooters.

In Taiwan, Gogoro already has partnerships with OEMs like Yamaha, Suzuki, Aeon and PGO to build e-scooters with its batteries. Today, over 90% of e-scooters sold in Taiwan are either Gogoro’s own Smartscooters or those built with its batteries.

Over the last couple of years, Gogoro has signed deals with Yadea and DCJ in China and Hero MotoCorp in India to build e-scooters for consumers in those markets. Aside from a handful of models from Yadea going around in China, the fruits of those OEM partnerships have yet to be realized, hence the need for a more near-term expansion strategy.

“In the future, we want to work with local manufacturers and pursue the consumer market, but in terms of getting it off the ground and getting a network established, there’s been demand in the B2B market. They’ve approached us,” Jason Gordon, Gogoro’s VP of communications, told TechCrunch. “Our goal is to accelerate the transition to sustainable vehicles, so the fastest way we’ll get there is the path we’ll take.”

Aside from Singapore and its home base in Taiwan, Gogoro currently has B2B pilots either ongoing or launching in Indonesia, India, South Korea and the Philippines. In all of those markets, Gogoro is sending over its own Smartscooters from Taiwan instead of waiting for local OEMs to build and ship their own scooter models. Gordon said shipping out scooters from Taiwan is a good way to prove the business model before pursuing a consumer push.

“For Gogoro, making an impact is the most important goal, and launching our pilot with B2B deliveries makes sense for that,” Luke told TechCrunch. “Last-mile delivery riders travel six times as far as consumers, so these riders see the advantages that battery swapping can have on their business. B2B has been a growing segment for us in Taiwan as well. More than a quarter of all last-mile deliveries in Taiwan now use Gogoro battery swapping.”

Gogoro in Singapore

The partnership with Foodpanda in Singapore comes after the city-state’s Land Transport Authority (LTA) awarded Gogoro a sandbox pilot to deploy and validate battery swapping. The company also partnered with automotive group Jardine Cycle & Carriage (JC&C) to distribute Gogoro’s e-scooters in Singapore and operate and install battery-swapping infrastructure there, it said at the time.

The Foodpanda pilot goes live today, and involves JC&C buying Gogoro 2 Series Smartscooters and leasing them to Foodpanda riders. The hope is that in the future, JC&C will lease more scooters both to Foodpanda and other B2B partners and riders. JC&C will also service and maintain the scooters, which Gogoro says helps make the offering cost-comparable to motorcycles with internal combustion engines. Riders can swap out batteries at stations located at JC&C’s service centers in the Alexandra and Ubi neighborhoods, and avail servicing at the former location.

While the initial swapping stations will only be available for participants in the pilot program, they’ll be located in public areas, no doubt with the goal of creating hype for swappable electric two-wheelers among other businesses and the general population.

The pilot is a hurdle that Gogoro needs to clear before it can be fully certified by the LTA and transition to commercial deployment, said Gordon.