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Unlimited to Restricted? Why Is Commercial Tariff for Electric Scooters Such a Tricky Task?

published: 2020-05-05 12:00

One of the most controversial topics recently falls on the unlimited monthly battery plan of Gogoro. Each sector has a different opinion regarding the definition of commercial use and the method of providing proof for penalty. Although Gogoro first emphasized that the company will have no leniency, it all of a sudden issued a statement on April 24 announcing a swift turn in the relevant policy, which offered little to no relief to its already damaged brand image. Why is Gogoro so persistent in implementing such policy? How should the tariff of electric scooters be calculated rationally?

A “Notification Letter of Illegal Usage” sent by Gogoro was posted online, and triggered the controversy in unlimited monthly plan. We have organized the current emphases as shown below:

  1. The NT$899 unlimited monthly plan of Gogoro prohibits commercial uses.
  2. A driving distance that exceeds 1,600km for two months consecutively will be regarded as commercial use and be penalized.
  3. Upon receiving the notice, users are able to send back photo verification for trips or long distance commute, and be exempted from penalty.
  4. Gogoro drivers reported by passersby for delivery.
  5. Gogoro issued an open letter stating that those who have been reported since May 10th will be switched to the commercial plan.
  6. Gogoro revised on the standard, which now states that users will only be penalized when travelling for more than 1,600km for two months consecutively, as well as being reported for commercial uses.

Putting aside this tariff controversy for now, what is running through our heads is the question on how should the energy tariff be calculated rationally for electric vehicles, if fossil fuel vehicles were to phase out one day in the future?

Take a monthly travel distance of 1,600 km as an example: among various energy plans, Gogoro’s commercial plan takes the crown, with phase-7 fossil fuel scooters having the cheapest plan, and the plan for rechargeable scooters, subsequent to the reduction in monthly plan by Kymco, is relatively cheap as well, if they are used with two batteries and charged at home.

With regard to the IONEX plan, Kymco has yet to clarify on its possibility of commercial usage in the future. The NT$398 monthly plan will return to the original price of NT$598 after the 2 years contract, though the plan also offers 2,000km of travel distance, which is considered quite a bargain, if users are able to charge at their homes. (Charging time is approximately 4 hours)

The commercial advantage is manifested even more clearly on fossil fuel vehicles amidst the extraordinary reduction in oil prices right now, and even with the price of 95-octane returning to NT$30/L, the monthly cost remains to be less than NT$1000, though such offer is only possible if one is riding a phase-7 fossil fuel scooter, who can then enjoy a low fuel consumption performance of 50km/L.

The exorbitant commercial plan of Gogoro is a major hindrance to the company. Why did Gogoro list such high price? Although there is no official clarification, the establishment of battery replacement stations and the cost of battery will indeed overwhelm the grid of Gogoro under a high frequency of battery replacement, and the initial advantage of battery replacement has also been diminished due to inadequate battery charging time, which explains the aggressive finesse by the company.

Though the substantial amount of Gogoro on the street is also the best advertising channel for the company, which is why the company allowed the existence of a grey area before, it had no choice but to respond under the constant reporting from other Gogoro owners. After two turnarounds, the latest definition states that users will only be deemed as conducting commercial uses from being reported as driving more than 1,600km for two months continuously; in other words, occasional deliveries will not be penalized.

According to the official statement of Gogoro, the company decided to relax on the standard based on the consideration for 99% of its users, but it is obvious that the core of this controversy is related to insufficient battery replacement stations and battery circulation; otherwise, why would the company become the talk of the town over merely 0.3% of its users?

Seeing how Gogoro is yet to conquer this field due to inadequate measures, e-moving plans to seize the electric scooter market by its commercialized ie PICKUP, which offers 3 battery rental plans that include the NT$399 basic plan (unlimited travel distance with home charging), the $599 intermediate plan that provides 100 minutes of super recharge time, and the $799 advanced plan that offers 400 minutes of super recharge time, with a minimum contract duration of 2 years for all 3 plans. The scooter is priced at NT$83,800.

Are rechargeable scooters the new future of commercialized scooters? The answer to that question depends on the degree of improvement for the performance of rechargeable scooters in the future. IONEX, for example, costs NT$66,800, has a maximum speed of below 60km/h, and is able to run for 60km under full battery, with an hour of full charging time (additional costs), which makes it an ineligible applicant for commercial uses. Furthermore, the short-term offers for existing tariff plans are only available due to the extremely small quantity of users, and it is uncertain whether the plans will increase in prices in the future, or be incorporated with clauses that are related to forbidding commercial uses.

Another challenge in commercializing electric vehicles comes from the maintenance system. For commercial users, time is money, and the fact that there are only a few electric scooter repairing stations, which are also difficult to reserve, makes it hard for users to not want to keep driving fossil fuel scooters that have been developed for a while now.

An observation of the existing two forms of electric scooters indicates that a battery replacement system better conforms to the commercial needs of users, though it induces a higher cost for operators, whereas a recharging system lacks vehicle performance and time flexibility despite price advantage. A comprehensive ban on fossil fuel vehicles is inevitable in the foreseeable future, and an extensive electrification of commercialized scooters will require additional infrastructures (charging stations, battery replacement stations, maintenance locations) in order to lower costs and range anxiety. Before that happens, the existing methods might just be the only available ones.

At last, we suggest that Gogoro, instead of going around in circles, should calculate the prices for the commercial plan meticulously, and attempt to lower the plan to below NT$1500, or collaborate with food delivery platforms and courier operators on launching discount offers, which allows commercial users to actually enjoy the full “unlimited” experience, instead of constantly calculating their travel distance. Imagine how much of a victory it will be for electric vehicles, if all delivery drivers ride on electric scooters.

 (Cover photo source: e-moving)

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