Temasek leads US$300m investment in electric scooter maker Gogoro

 A mechanic examines a Gogoro Smartscooter which is connected to a tablet, in its shop in Taipei.
A mechanic examines a Gogoro Smartscooter which is connected to a tablet, in its shop in Taipei.PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (BLOOMBERG) - Gogoro Inc, an electric scooter-maker backed by Panasonic Corp, raised US$300 million (S$404 million) from Singapore's Temasek Holdings and other investors to pay for expansion and research and development.

Generation Investment Management, co-founded by Al Gore, Japan's Sumitomo Corp, and French utility Engie SA, also invested. The new funding brings the Taiwan-based startup's valuation to about US$800 million, including the new cash injection, according to a person familiar with the matter. That's double the level when it last raised in 2015, the person said.

Founded in 2011 by Horace Luke and Matt Taylor, former executives at HTC Corp, Gogoro plans to use the investment to expand into more cities. The company started selling its scooters in Taiwan in 2015. It's sold more than 30,000 scooters so far and built more than 400 stations for riders to swap used batteries for charged ones.

"Temasek is well connected in Southeast Asia and it's a key market for us," said Luke, chief executive officer of Gogoro. "Southeast Asia has a very strong resemblance to that of Taiwan. We've done well in Taiwan, but it's still a very limited market."

Last year, Gogoro rolled out a scooter-sharing program with Robert Bosch GmbH in Berlin. Users in the city can use a smartphone app to locate, book and pay to use the scooter. Riders can drop the scooter off at their destination rather than at a central docking station. Earlier this year, Gogoro launched this sharing service in Paris.

Gogoro's growth comes as bike-sharing startups have proliferated in China, with promises to reduce traffic and improve the environment. Chinese startups Beijing Mobike Technology and Ofo let users scan a QR code to unlock bikes then drop them off anywhere. The Chinese venture market has poured money into the space, allowing the startups to push down prices and flood the streets with bikes. Temasek, Singapore's state investment firm, invested in Mobike earlier this year.