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After first entering Korea in 2019 as part of a food delivery partnership, Gogoro is now expanding its battery-swapping electric scooters around the country and opening up ridership for everyday commuters. It’s a move that follows Gogoro’s tried and true strategy of entering countries with an initial focus on business customers and then expanding to private consumers.

Gogoro is well-known for its high-speed electric scooters and their swappable batteries, which eliminate the need to stop and charge the scooter for several hours. Instead, riders simply pull into a battery swap station and roll back out seconds later with new, fully charged batteries. Gogoro’s battery model has become something of a de facto standard, though other industry heavyweights like Honda have tried imitating it in order to eventually offer a competing standard.

In Gogoro’s domestic market of Taiwan, thousands of swap stations cover the country and ensure riders are always within a few minutes of a station. The company counts hundreds of thousands of battery swaps each day across those stations.

Moving beyond its home market, Gogoro has been aggressively expanding internationally over the last few years to reach countries across Asia including China, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Korea, Japan, Singapore, and Israel.

The Korean expansion announcement comes as part of an evolving partnership with BikeBank, a leading electric two-wheeled vehicle service in Korea.

Together, the two companies will introduce Gogoro’s Smartscooters and the company’s lauded battery swapping to Korean consumers in Q3 2023 under the Dotstation brand, expanding the battery swapping network to seven additional cities beyond the current operations in Seoul.

Gogoro founder and CEO Horace Luke discussed the expanded partnership, saying:

It is great to be growing our partnership with Bikebank, a company that shares similar values and is committed to accelerating the shift to electric transportation in Korea. Seoul has one of the largest food delivery ecosystems in the world and was one of the first markets to embrace Gogoro battery swapping for food deliverie. Together, we are introducing Gogoro Smartscooters and battery swapping to Korean consumers while we continue to grow our B2B food delivery business where we work with market leaders to enable sustainable food delivery.

To support the major growth expected by the expansion of services, Bikebank has opened two Dotstation retail stores for consumers and last mile delivery riders as well as expanded the battery swapping network to more than 70 battery swapping stations across Korea. Those battery swapping stations will be available in the cities of Seoul, Daegu, Sejong, Changwon, Incheon, Gyeongsan, Gyeonggi, and Ulsan.

Minkyu Kim, CEO of Bikebank, expanded on the announcement:

Together with Gogoro, we are accelerating the transformation of urban mobility in Korea. We created Dotstation to lead us forward into a new era of sustainable urban transportation that provides a path for Korean consumers to embrace sustainability in a new and practical way. Dotstation is expanding Gogoro battery swapping services to eight Korean cities, and we anticipate launching more battery swapping locations this year with a range of vehicles including Gogoro Smartscooters for consumers.

The move could signal an increased focus on expanding B2C (business to consumer) operations around the world, after Gogoro has spent the last few years significantly growing its international B2B (business to business) operations.

That would align with the existing Gogoro strategy we’ve seen lately, as, Luke explained to Electrek:

“The expansion of our partnership with Bikebank in Korea today exemplifies our market entry and international expansion strategy. In Korea, we began with a pilot program and then progressed to a successful B2B food delivery service in Seoul and are now introducing Smartscooters and battery swapping to consumers across eight Korean cities.”

Electrek’s Take

This is big news for anyone who has drooled over Gogoro’s battery-swapping electric scooters. I happen to be lucky enough to live in a country that already received Gogoro’s scooters for consumers, and now I count the Gogoro S2 Performance ABS as my daily rider. I’m happy for Koreans that they’ll get to experience these awesome scooters and battery swapping system soon, too.

The model of course makes sense for delivery riders, since they can spend all day on their scooters and don’t have the luxury of waiting for a recharge. Compared to combustion engine motorcycles and scooters, a battery swap takes even less time than a fuel stop at a gas station. And of courser riders get all the other benefits of electric vehicles, such as the reduced noise, smoother operation, cleaner and lower maintenance experience, etc.

But for consumers, the ability to never worry about charging again is also a welcome advantage. And while Gogoro has significantly expanded its commercial operations to partner with food delivery companies around Asia, its consumer operations haven’t expanded quite as quickly. Seeing Koreans finally get the chance to buy Gogoro’s scooters for personal use is a major step and demonstrates that Gogoro is still focusing on expanding its consumer operations as well, marking the third and final move in the Pilot > B2B > B2C strategy it has followed.

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Italy says that it’s illegal for Alfa Romeo to call its new EV the Milano

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Italy says that it’s illegal for Alfa Romeo to call its new EV the Milano

What’s an Alfa Romeo without a cool Italian-sounding name? The Stellantis-owned company is naming its first BEV after the famous city of Milan, but the Italian government is now playing hardball by saying that’s illegal since the car will be built in Poland. If it’s not made in Italy, it can’t sound Italian.

Alfa Romeo – the iconic Italian brand founded in 1910 – unveiled its first all-electric car this week, a small SUV dubbed the Milano. Stellantis has been at odds with the Italian government for months for what he says is its lack of support in EV adoption and not backing home-grown brands Fiat and Alfa Romeo, but the government says that moving production outside the country is a step way too far.

Italy’s industry minister Adolfo Urso, according to Automotive News Europe, slammed Stellantis for the decision to build the EV at the company’s Tychy plant in Poland – meaning the car will be the first Alfa Romeo to be entirely built outside of Italy. And if the electric vehicle isn’t built in Italy, it can’t carry an Italian-sounding name according to Italian law.

“A car called Milano cannot be produced in Poland. This is forbidden by Italian law,” Urso said, referring to 2003 law that prohibits any products being sold with Italian-sounding names that aren’t made in Italy. Yet somehow calling it the Tychy doesn’t have the same ring.

“This law stipulates that you cannot give indications that mislead consumers. So a car called Milano must be produced in Italy. Otherwise, it gives a misleading indication which is not allowed under Italian law,” he added, according to Automotive News Europe.

Urso is referring to a law that says it is illegal to falsely present a foreign-made product as coming from Italy, but has typically been invoked against food products, such as forbidding a US-made “Parmigiano Reggiano” cheese. France has similar laws protecting its products, such as prohibiting sparking wine be called “champagne” if it doesn’t come from the Champagne region of France.

The rationale for building the vehicle in Poland, according to Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares, is that it will shave off €10,000 from its retail price.

While pricing has yet been released, the new EV is based on Stellantis’s e-CMP platform, which powers its Jeep Avenger. A 54 kWh battery pack will deliver up to 250 miles of range, and in an urban cycle, it can get up to 366 miles of range.

Italy, home to some of the oldest, most polluting cars in Europe, is working (finally) to change that, with the government weighing a plan to put €930 million ($1 billion) into some enticing financial incentives to nudge drivers toward electric cars. This includes an incentive topping €13,750 to allow Italian citizens with an annual income lower than €30,000 to replace old Euro 2 models (meeting emissions standards set back in 1997) for new electric cars. An EV made is Italy is even better, of course.

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IEA downgrades oil demand growth forecast as prices heat up on elevated Middle East tensions

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IEA downgrades oil demand growth forecast as prices heat up on elevated Middle East tensions

An oil pumpjack is shown near the Callon Petroleum vicinity on March 27, 2024 in Monahans, Texas. 

Brandon Bell | Getty Images

The International Energy Agency on Friday downgraded its forecast for 2024 oil demand growth, citing “exceptionally weak” OECD deliveries, a largely complete post-Covid-19 rebound and an expanding electric vehicle fleet.

In its latest monthly oil market report, the IEA said it had revised down its 2024 oil demand growth forecast by around 100,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 1.2 million bpd.

The global energy watchdog said that it expected the pace of expansion to decelerate even further to 1.1 million bpd next year “as the post-Covid 19 rebound has run its course.”

The IEA’s report comes amid a rebound in oil prices on elevated Middle East tensions, with energy market participants closely monitoring the prospect of supply disruptions from the oil-producing region.

Iran, which is a member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, has vowed to retaliate after it accused Israel of bombing its embassy in the Syrian capital of Damascus earlier this month.

The attack has ratcheted up tensions in a region already grappling with the ongoing Israel-Hamas war. Israel has not claimed responsibility for the attack.

International benchmark Brent crude futures with June delivery traded 0.8% higher at $90.45 per barrel on Friday at 9:30 a.m. in London, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate futures with May delivery rose nearly 1% to trade at $85.84 per barrel.

“We’re seeing the surge in [electric vehicle] sales, especially in China and also in Europe, really taking into gasoline demand, but also in the United States,” Toril Bosoni, head of oil industry and markets division at the IEA, told CNBC’s “Street Signs Europe” on Friday.

“There has been a lot of talk about sales not increasing as much as maybe was expected, but EV sales and increased fuel efficiencies in the car fleet is lowering gasoline demand, at least in advanced economies and particularly in China.”

Asked about some of the main concerns relating to oil supply security, Bosoni replied, “We are watching, obviously, the Middle East very closely. The continued tanker attacks in the Red Sea is of key concern, but also escalating tensions between Iran and Israel, and then we’re seeing tensions between Russia and Ukraine continue, with attacks on Russian refineries.”

“So, there are several tension points in the oil market today that we’re watching very closely that could have major impacts … if there would be any significant outages,” she added.

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Tesla unveils new Sport Seats to absorb Model S Plaid’s insane power

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Tesla unveils new Sport Seats to absorb Model S Plaid's insane power

Tesla has unveiled new Sport Seats for the Model S Plaid to absorb the electric supercar’s insane power better.

While it’s in the form of a family sedan, the Model S Plaid could easily pass as an electric supercar with its 1.99-second 0 to 60 mph acceleration.

That’s more power than anyone would need, but it is fun.

Some Model S Plaid owners even like to take the fun to the racetrack. When cornering, you can really feel the Gs on the racetrack.

Tesla’s Model S seats are comfortable, but they are not designed for super-spirited driving, which the rest of the vehicle enables.

Today, Tesla decided to address the issue with the release of new Sports Seats:

They obviously feature much more pronounced side support. Here are the main features of the seats:

  • Increased lateral support
  • Modular seat architecture for comfort & support, plus same 12-way power adjust, heating & ventilation
  • High performance suede for increased grip & reduced weight

Here’s another look at the new seats:

The seats are now standard for the $90,000 Model S Plaid and included on all cars built since the beginning of the month.

Electrek’s Take

We had known new sports seats were coming to the new Model 3 Performance, which is expected to be unveiled any day, but it makes sense that the Model S Plaid would get them first.

The vehicle’s level of performance deserves sports seats.

I am surprised that Tesla is making it standard rather than a paid option, but we’ll take it.

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