Taiwan company introduces electric scooters to Ishigaki

Gogoro Co., a Taiwanese company operating electric scooter sharing services in Taiwan, Berlin and Paris, and Sumitomo Corp., a giant Japanese trading firm, announced Thursday that they plan to introduce electric scooter sharing service to the island within this fiscal year.

The companies are also planning to install four charging spots for the scooters on the island. This is the first time electric scooter rental service has been introduced in Japan.

The companies say the plan is to use Ishigaki as an experiment to test the feasibility of the concept with the aim to spread the service to cover entire Japan. Ishigaki, which promotes itself as an “eco-island” cooperates with the project. Ishigaki City officials declared that, “the city supports efforts to realize the island developing in a sustainable way”.

Ishigaki City uses a government subsidiary to invigorate remote islands to support the project, and is planning to install within this year solar panels and batteries to power the charging spots at a cost of ¥60 million.

The scooters have replaceable batteries that are charged separately while exchanging the battery takes only about six seconds, so users of the scooters don’t have to wait until the battery is charged. In Taiwan, there are more than 34,000 electric scooters in use with 421 charging spots spread throughout the island to serve them.

As the number of tourists has increased rapidly in Ishigaki, problems like exhaust pollution from cars, lack of transportation and scarce parking space have become severe. Sumitomo Corp. expects introducing electric scooters would help solve the problems. If the experiment proves successful, Sumitomo plans to introduce the service to other areas in Japan.

The number of scooters and the pricing of the service are still under discussion.