TOKYO (Reuters) - Taiwanese electric scooter maker Gogoro plans to enter Japan and offer its battery sharing infrastructure to automakers in the country, a top Gogoro official said, apart from competing in the two-wheeler market dominated by giants including Honda Motor Co. The start-up, which sells scooters in Taiwan and operates a battery distribution network for riders, last week said it had secured investment from Japanese trading house Sumitomo Corporation, opening the door to the country’s highly competitive scooter market.
However, rather than focussing only on scooter sales, Gogoro CEO Horace Luke said he plans to supply the company’s batteries to Japanese automakers which include Toyota Motor Corp and Nissan Motor Co. The company also hopes to supply to transportation service providers, enabling drivers to swap out used batteries for new ones at its roadside stations.
“(Our vision is for) every vehicle maker in Japan and in the region to use Gogoro batteries and Gogoro infrastructure,” Luke told Reuters in Tokyo at the launch of a pilot scooter sharing service on Ishigakijima island in the country’s far south.
“We can use Sumitomo Corporation’s horsepower with our spark and innovation to make a lot of changes.”
Sumitomo Corp, one of Japan’s biggest trading houses, has long-standing ties with the country’s automakers, and operates as a vehicle distributor in emerging countries. Among its many businesses, the company also invests in and develops transportation infrastructure systems and supplies natural resources.
Gogoro is among a growing number of start-ups entering the transportation industry, going head-to-head with traditional automakers as they compete to offer mobility services. It also plans to expand as an energy network company amid tightening emission regulations.
“Gogoro isn’t just a scooter maker. It wants to expand usage of its battery infrastructure,” said Tsuyoshi Ogata, deputy General manager of Sumitomo Corp’s mobility service business.
“We’d like to help it to attract more users, including domestic automakers, to its energy platform.”
In a partnership with Bosch, the world’s biggest car parts supplier, Gogoro also operates pilot scooter sharing projects in Paris and Berlin.
Last week, it said it had raised a total of $300 million from Sumitomo Corp and other investors including Singapore’s Temasek in the latest round of funding. Panasonic Corp, which supplies Gogoro’s lithium-ion batteries, is also an investor.
Reporting by Naomi Tajitsu; Editing by Vyas Mohan