Taiwan's Gogoro to launch battery-swapping network with India's Hero MotoCorp
By Gloria Cho
TAIPEI, NNA—Taiwan's electric two-wheeler giant Gogoro Inc. is poised to secure a strong presence with its battery-swapping network in India under a joint venture with India’s Hero MotoCorp Ltd.
Apart from building the network together, Hero MotoCorp will also launch electric two-wheelers based on Gogoro technology under its own brand. This marks the first time India's two-wheeler market leader is rolling out electric vehicles.
In a media statement, Gogoro founder and CEO Horace Luke said, “The Hero-Gogoro partnership will leverage Hero’s market strength and Gogoro’s industry leading innovations to deliver smart vehicles and refueling with Gogoro Network battery swapping.”
Ingrid YC Tseng, an associate researcher at Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) in Taiwan, believes the strategic alliance with Hero MotoCorp, the world’s largest manufacturer of motorcycles and scooters by sales, will rapidly expand Gogoro's business since India is the world’s largest two-wheeler market.
On the huge opportunities awaiting Gogoro, she told NNA, "Chances are that it will grab the monopoly status in terms of battery-swapping system in India."
In turn, New Delhi-based Hero MotoCorp will be able to build a new power exchange ecosystem, while accelerating its development of two-wheelers powered by swappable li-ion batteries, said the researcher.
India has overtaken China to become the world's largest motorcycle market in recent years, with total sales hitting roughly 17 million units in fiscal year 2020 and accounting for a big chunk of the global pie of 57 million units, according to a study by research firm IDTechEx.
Last month, total sales of two-wheelers in India came up to 1.5 million units, a 4.9 percent CAGR decrease (compound annual growth rate), according to the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers. While the drop could be attributed to the impact of the raging pandemic, the two-wheeler segment has continued to outperform other vehicles.
Leading India's two-wheeler market with a 36 percent share, Hero MotoCorp is capable of wielding its influence to push local adoption of Gogoro's battery system, as well as persuading the authorities to invest in charging facilities, Tseng reckoned.
For Gogoro, it could mean less spending for building the battery network besides opportunities to be tapped from back-end big data garnered from developing new electric two-wheelers jointly with Hero MotoCorp, she said.
Gogoro, which revolutionized the battery swapping infrastructure, has about 2,000 battery swapping stations in Taiwan.
The network handles almost 265,000 battery swaps daily and speedily using a simple, cashless digital process. Dried-out batteries are switched with recharged ones which pop out in six seconds.
Pawan Munjal, chairman and CEO of Hero MotoCorp said in his media statement, “This partnership will further extend the work, which we are doing at our R&D hubs at the center of innovation and technology in Jaipur and our tech center in Germany.”
“This partnership will strengthen and expedite the Indian government’s electrification drive and will have a significant impact on India’s energy and mobility future,” he added.
Established in 1984, Hero MotoCorp became the world’s largest two-wheeler manufacturer in 2001 by unit volume sales. Keeping its title since then, it has a presence in 40 countries around the world today.
However, Gogoro might still face challenges in India.
On March 26, a swappable battery consortium for electric motorcycles formed by major Japanese vehicle makers Honda Motor Co., Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd., Suzuki Motor Corp., and Yamaha Motor Co., reached an agreement to standardize batteries and replacement systems to allow battery sharing in order to encourage widespread adoption of electric motorcycles in Japan.
Industry watchers noted that Honda is also the second largest brand in India’s motorcycle and scooter market. Under the consortium agreement, parts of the common specifications are compliant with a technical paper issued by the Society of Automotive Engineers of Japan, Inc. Organization (JASO).
However, Suzuki is already using Gogoro's battery swapping technology for its Taiwan-spec scooters.
Meanwhile, the transition from lead-acid batteries to li-ion for cleaner mobility faces challenges in countries like India because of their hot weather which can see summer temperatures soaring to 45 degrees Celsius. Also, the habit of motorists leaving vehicles in an open space under the sun is not a good practice for battery-powered vehicles, warned INTechEx in its report.