For over 50 years, Kymco has sold scooters in its native Taiwan and around the world. Short for Kwang Yang Motor Company, the Kymco brand is now mostly known internationally by its acronym. In Taiwan, scooters are a way of life, and are one of the most popular means of personal transportation. It’s a state of being that Kymco helped to create. Unfortunately, while the company did well in selling its gas-powered scooters to people, the pivot to electric has so far left the brand out in the cold.
Remember Gogoro? In its relatively short lifespan, that Taiwanese electric upstart company has been absolutely owning Taiwan’s electric scooter market. The Taipei Times reported that at the end of March, 2021, Gogoro had so far sold 345,190 of its electric scooters to Kymco’s 19,215. You don’t even need to open up your calculator app to see that it’s very disappointing news for Kymco.
While the brand undoubtedly has history on its side, that history has so far been combustion-based. That’s why Kymco president Allen Ko says he’s taking the Kymco Ionex electric scooter brand and making it into its own thing—in Taiwan, at least. In the rest of the world, electric Ionex products will still be marketed as Kymco products.
It’s not exactly a spin-off, although Ionex scooters will have their own stores in Taiwan. Think of it kind of like the way Ducati made Scrambler into its own brand. We still know they’re Ducatis, but the way they’re marketed is less about sexy superbikes and more about encouraging new riders to hop on and customize their rides. You know what? It’s clearly working, as Ducati Scramblers sell like hotcakes.
One of the keys to Gogoro’s success in Taiwan has been its rapidly expanding network of charging stations throughout the country. Range anxiety is a major worry in the minds of people who might be on the fence about adopting an electric lifestyle. Utilizing swappable battery stations like Gogoro has makes sense for some vehicles, in some situations. As Kymco itself points out in this video, it’s especially important for delivery riders—which are a common sight on Taiwanese streets.
So, Ionex will be rolling out swappable battery stations of its own. It plans to have 1,500 available by the end of 2021, increasing to 4,000 by the end of 2022. It already has partnerships in place with four major local companies: Chunghwa Telecom, President Chain Store, Fubon Insurance, and Carrefour Taiwan. All four existing companies have multiple locations throughout the island nation, where Ionex swap stations will be built.
Kymco is also weighing its options on creating a scheme where electric scooterists who have extra space can also establish smaller-scale Ionex battery swapping stations. Batt:RE offers a similar peer-to-peer charging network solution in India.
As we’ve noted previously, Kymco is thinking about electric motorcycles, too. From the F9, which looks like a cross between a scooter and a motorbike, up to the RevoNEX and SuperNEX, Kymco is working hard to make a little electric something for everyone. Will any of these electric Kymcos make landfall in North America? We’ll let you know as soon as we do, but here’s hoping that they do.