You might expect a company with so much HTC talent to launch a smartphone or some other high-tech gadget.
But today at CES, Gogoro unveiled an battery-powered “Smartscooter,” which surprisingly has a lot in common with a smartphone.
The scooter is sharp-looking, with aluminum and Chromium metal finishes. Additionally, owners will be able to use a smartphone app to pick colors and noises that flash and ding when you power up, use a turn signal or engage a kickstand.
The final thing smartphone owners will find all-too familiar: A monthly bill.
Owners will pay a subscription fee to pick-up fully charged batteries at vending machines throughout a city, much like a monthly fee in the cellular world refills your voice and data allowance. In this case, the benefit is that Smartscooter owners won’t ever have to wait to charge their own batteries at home or anywhere else. Plus, transportation costs will be predictable, with a set recurring fee.
The company’s 300 employees are mostly in Taipei, where engineering and manufacturing are based, but its executive team is primarily located in the Seattle area, where HTC operates its North American headquarters.
The company’s initial roll-out begins this year. It will be targeting a young user demographic in dense urban markets. It has not announced pricing or its launch cities.
Gogoro’s co-founders include Chairman and CEO Horace Luke, who was at HTC for almost five years, serving as its chief innovation officer. Prior to that, Luke was a creative director at Microsoft, including its Xbox division. The company’s CTO Matt Taylor, was also previously at HTC, serving as chief technologist. And, before that, he worked at Microsoft in its mobility group.
Taylor lives full-time in the Seattle area, while Luke travels back and forth between Taipei and Seattle. Other Seattle-area execs, who also previously worked at HTC, include Gogoro’s Ben Bethurum, the company’s creative director, and Jason Gordon, Gogoro’s VP of communications.
Over the past three years, the company has raised an impressive $150 million. Investors in the company include Dr. Samuel Yin of Ruentex Group, who is estimated by Forbes to be worth $4.5 billion due to his diversified interests in retail, financial services and real estate. HTC Chairwoman Cher Wang is also an investor.
The scooters are being built with Panasonic’s 18650 lithium-ion cells — the same used in the Tesla Model S. And, unlike most pokey gas-powered machines, Gogoro’s can go from zero to 30 mph in 4.2 seconds, with a max speed of 60 mph. With two batteries on board, it has a range approaching 100 miles.