Gogoro EV startup aims to be a 'game-changer' in electric transport, CEO says

Gogoro CEO Horace Luke joins Yahoo Finance Live to discuss taking the EV startup public via SPAC and the outlook for electric mobility.

Video transcript

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BRIAN CHEUNG: Welcome back to Yahoo Finance. Our story here is charging up the NASDAQ-- electric scooter startup Gogoro made its public debut via special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, as a reminder. Yesterday shares are up 4 and 1/2% today. The Foxconn-backed company is looking to change the EV space, with its battery swapping ecosystem, with its GoStations on track to overtake gas stations in Taiwan by the end of this year.

Joining us now with more is Horace Luke, Gogoro founder, chairman, and CEO. Horace, it's great to have you on the program. Give us a little bit of an overview of exactly what it is that your company does and how you hope the capital raised is going to help you scale further.

HORACE LUKE: Thanks, Brian. At the core, what Gogoro does today is that we are a not just an electric vehicle solution company, but also an infrastructure company. Instead of purchasing a vehicle with a battery, the consumer actually purchases a vehicle without the battery, and with that, swap and go with basically thousands of stations located across town, very-- as dense as an ATM. And instead of waiting to charge up in, let's say, half an hour to an hour, what we provide is a full energy swap.

AKIKO FUJITA: Yeah, it is a fascinating model.

HORACE LUKE: That's [AUDIO OUT] our founding [AUDIO OUT]. Yeah. And the idea is really to remove the battery costs from the purchase equation, but instead make it a sticky subscription business model with the consumer and allow the consumer to basically, then, have a great user experience while they're living within a city to swap and go in just seconds. And we, over the last six years, we've really demonstrated a leadership position within Taiwan. When we first started in Taiwan, it was less than 1% of vehicle was electric.

Today, we can probably say within cities, we're close to 20% in Taipei. And within that, 97 of all electric vehicles are actually powered by our swapping network. So not only are the game changer in the equation of adopting electric, but also at the same time, we're now the de facto standard, working with partners like Yamaha, Suzuki Taiwan, Aeon, PGO, and others.

AKIKO FUJITA: And Horace, you've got some big name backers, including Foxconn, as well as Temasek. It's a fascinating model that certainly has proven to be successful in Taiwan. I'm also thinking emerging markets, like in Indonesia or India. Why go public in the US

HORACE LUKE: Well, number one, it's where the big boys play, where the big brands of technology is raising money, raising capital, as well as attracting millions of investors. Now, I came from about 20 years of technology, where I was one of the original founder of Xbox, back in Microsoft, creative director of Windows XP. I really saw how technology changed how people becomes more productive, more efficient.

But as I looked forward in the next two decades, similar to what you were just talking about a second ago, is technology really the-- when it comes to technology relevance to the next generation's lives, are we talking about computing? Are we talking about connectivity and entertainment? Or are we talking about sustainability? And I really think that as I was looking around the next topic that I want to engage in, I really thought sustainability was going to be a huge challenge, especially with the East.

Most people don't realize over 50% of all urban commute miles done every day is done on two wheelers. If you look at India, China, Indonesia alone, there are over 500 million two wheelers roaming around every day. They don't have a solution. What we want to do is provide a solution that enable not only ourselves, but also our partners.

So think of us as really the Android of EV, where our solution of battery swapping has proven so good that now we're working with India's number one vehicle maker, Hero MotoCorp. We work with China's number one electric vehicle maker, Yadea. We're working with Chang'an, number one gas vehicle maker in China, as well as GoTo and Gojek in Indonesia that you were mentioning just a second ago. So attracting a lot of great players to come on board, to work with us, to really transform what Urban mobility is going to be like moving forward.

BRIAN CHEUNG: Yeah, my mom's Taiwanese. I mean, there's a lot more scooters and bikes in Taipei than there are cars. I wanted to ask, why did you decide to go down the SPAC route? We know that capital markets and SPACs haven't been as popular in 2022 as they've been in 2021. Why did you decide to go down that route?

HORACE LUKE: The experience was great. Brian, I was just talking about how in 30 seconds I had to deliver what my business plan was. It's really challenging, because what we do is very comprehensive, from the motor to the vehicle to the battery to the swap station to the AI engine in the back to the partnership and the business model we're taking into those markets. It took time to really explain and really took time to partner with somebody who understood the capital market, represents us well, and engaged with top-tier investors.

Now, I'm happy to say that our partner was Poema Global. And with the team behind it, with Principal Capital, we were able to raise $335 million. We were targeting a PIPE of about $175 million. So we're easily 70% oversubscribed on our PIPE. That said, it was a great experience for us. And I really look forward to using this platform and using these resources to now go global and expand into other markets and really realize that the partnerships that we aim to do.

AKIKO FUJITA: Yes, so let's talk about some of those other markets. I mean, where do you see the biggest growth potential right now? And beyond that, we're talking about two wheels today, but do you see the similar model working for four wheels and electric vehicles broadly?

HORACE LUKE: Absolutely. The market is gigantic. If you look at the two-wheeler market alone, Taiwan is-- Brian said he was from Taiwan. Even though it's densely populated with scooters, the annual sales of scooters [AUDIO OUT]. But if you look at the countries that we were just mentioning-- China, India, Indonesia-- combined, those markets are over 60 million vehicles per year. So a great opportunity to 100x what our technology can offer today.

And secondly, our electric vehicle partner recently shipped three wheelers with a configuration of two batteries, as well as another one that is more heavy duty that has four batteries in the boot. Now, that said, we also recently announced a partnership with ProLogium to demonstrate the first solid-state battery, increasing the capacity about 40%. And through that denser energy, through more power into a smaller package, we're then able to explore alternative form factors, such as micro four wheels or three wheelers that has a canopy, that allow urban mobility to go to the next level.

Now, of course, that's a little further out. We're still looking aggressively at these two-wheel market. In China alone, there's 375 million two wheelers that are waiting to retire and go on to a better platform, like the Gogoro platform. And working with somebody like Yadea, who has a great presence there-- they're targeted to sell about 15 to 16 million vehicles this year-- and using our platform to transition their business model from just simple box moving to now a subscription-based business model together with Gogoro, it can be great opportunity for us to do good, as well as do well at the same time.

BRIAN CHEUNG: Oh man, all this talk about Taiwan, it's got me wanting a bowl of niu rou mian. But Horace Luke, Gogoro founder, chairman, and CEO, thanks again for stopping by Yahoo Finance this morning, night for you. Thanks again for taking the time. Congratulations again.