With over 70 million gas scooters and mopeds already on the streets worldwide, these small and nimble vehicles are an important part of the transportation ecosystem.
However convenient they are for riders though, loud and polluting gas scooters are a still a nuisance in many cities. But the scooter landscape is changing quickly as the industry shifts towards electrification. We sat down with the chairman of KYMCO, one of the largest scooter companies in the world, to discuss their plans to move towards electric scooters.
KYMCO electric scooters
KYMCO is the fifth largest scooter company in the world, and the largest scooter company in Taiwan. That makes them something of the domestic equivalent of GM, in terms of scale and influence, as nearly everyone in Taiwan commutes by scooter instead of car.
That also makes KYMCO a good bellwether for the scooter industry.
Electrek recently sat down with KYMCO’s Chairman Allen Ko during our time at the Paris Motor Show to discuss their progress towards electric vehicles. Ko started right off the bat discussing the importance of electric vehicles as a mainstay of KYMCO’s production moving forward.
According to Ko:
“In recent years there has been a big change in consumers’ perspectives towards electric vehicles. I think this may be because of Tesla causing more people to pay attention to electric vehicles. So we think it is the right timing to take electric very seriously. It will become a very important strategy for KYMCO to build its brand in the global market.”
KYMCO released their IONEX line of electric scooters and swappable batteries earlier this year. Then the company unveiled IONEX Commercial at the Paris Motor Show. IONEX Commercial provides a completely turnkey electric scooter and battery charging system that allows companies or governments to quickly and easily adapt fleets of electric scooters into their operations.
KYMCO is increasingly betting on the success of their electric scooters, giving them equal footing with their traditional gas scooter models.
Mr. Ko believes it will pay off:
“For almost every new model we have for urban mobility, we will have a gasoline powered-version and an electric-powered version. And we are expecting a more than 50% conversion rate of people purchasing the new electric models.”
The fact that consumers are switching from gas scooters to electric scooters should come as no surprise. The trend isn’t new – we’re already seeing it play out in scooter-heavy countries around the world.
But a big part of that gas vs. electric equation is still reliant on the local attitudes of both consumers and governments.
When pressed on how quickly the majority of KYMCO’s international sales will go electric, Ko responded:
“The transition to electric is going to happen step by step because in different parts of the world, the market or the government are at different stages of electric awareness. For example, in Taiwan, the government is actively and aggressively pushing the transition towards electric.”
In other countries with governments that place less of an emphasis on the importance of electric vehicles, adoption rates of electric scooters haven’t risen as quickly.
But KYMCO believes that it is just a matter of time before the dominance of electric scooters becomes an inevitable conclusion. And when it does, they want their battery standard to become a universal solution.
Between KYMCO’s Ionex batteries and charging stations, the company believes they can offer a swappable battery solution for many different types of vehicles.
As described by Ko:
“We believe that we could play the role of something like the gasoline station network today. And so other manufacturers, if they wish, can make use of our energy network.”
To do so, they’ll have to beat rival Gogoro, another Taiwanese scooter company that has had a swappable electric scooter battery standard on the road for years. And as the concept of one company’s batteries becoming the new gas station network of tomorrow becomes more popular, other manufacturers are throwing their hats in the ring.
Evoke Motorcycles, a Bejing-based electric motorcycle company, is working on their own battery standard. They recently announced that their second generation batteries are currently undergoing testing and can already be recharged to 80% in just 15 minutes.
As this space continues to heat up, more exciting electric two-wheelers are on they way. In less than a week KYMCO will lift the veil on their newest electric model at the EICMA motorcycle show in Milan, which is rumored to be some type of high powered electric scooter or even an electric superbike. And you can be sure that Electrek will be on site in Milan to bring you all the details.
To see our interview with KYMCO Chairman Allen Ko in full, watch the video below: