Swobi, a Berlin-based startup working to commercialize battery replacement for micromobile vehicles, has raised a $6.5 million Series A grant led by new strategic investor EIT InnoEnergy, Europe’s leading renewable energy accelerator backed by the European Union.
The startup will rely on both InnoEnergy funds and the European green technology network to build its network of battery swap stations in Germany and two new European countries, according to startup CEO and co-founder Thomas Dushi. The country.
If the Swobi business concept sounds familiar, you’re probably thinking of Gogoro, the Taiwanese electric moped and battery giant that completely dominates its homeland and is expanding across Asia. The company recently launched a battery exchange network in China and plans to do the same in India.
“Our role model is Gogoro,” Soul told gaming-updates. “The Gogoro is a highly vertically integrated e-moped model, but an e-moped will never become the number one mode of transport in Europe as we know it, so we are looking at less mobility options such as e-bikes, cargo bikes and scooters. I
Aside from Swobi’s focus on small, micro-mobile vehicles, there are a few other differences between the German startup and Gogoro’s business model. By making its own mopeds and partnering with OEMs, Gogoro has been able to commercialize and scale one type of battery. Swaby swap stations can accommodate up to six different battery types for different vehicles, and the startup plans to add two more battery types this year to open up its network to more players.
“We standardized it so that you only need to replace one compartment dedicated to a special battery, and you can really set up the infrastructure once and then adapt it to the needs of the city,” Dusha says, explaining that Swobi has integrated batteries made by Segway automakers. and OKE to your battery replacement system.
Since its inception in 2017, Swobbee has targeted primarily companies with homogeneous micromobile fleets, such as last-mile drivers or shared micromobility vehicle operators, to test and expand their models. The startup has provided charging infrastructure to logistics providers such as Hermes, DHL Logistics and DPD and is partnering with shared operator Tier Mobility. While Tier has its own battery-swap power grid dedicated to riders, work on the swoopy level – and for the first spin the company did before it pulled out of its European operations and was bought by Tier – is coming back to an end. Tier employees use Swooby stations to change batteries for vehicles without docks on the road.
Swobbee recently signed one of the “top three” micromobility operators as a customer, Soul said, but declined to provide details. However, he said the nature of this partnership would be similar to Swobi’s deal with Tier.
The goal for 2022 is not only to expand the customer fleet, but also to reach the average consumer with personal vehicles, which is closer to the Gogoro model.
Soul said: “This year, together with the EU, we are testing a B2C model where we want to find out if replacement batteries or battery sharing services can be something for European customers. Ha”. “We know it works well in Asia, especially in East Asia, but we need to see if it works in Europe as well.”
During this pilot project, Berliner will provide vehicles without batteries and see how they use the existing swoopy battery swap network for recharging. The reason for this is that although there are many companies that sell electric micromobiles directly to customers, there is not yet a sufficient service or maintenance network that allows drivers to easily switch to a battery that will last several years. and long before the rest of the car breaks down.
For the pilot project to be successful, Swobi will have to expand its network. According to the Swobi app, the company currently has 19 public stations in Germany, including nine in or around Berlin, four in Stuttgart, two outside Düsseldorf, one in Frankfurt and three in Freiburg. Soul said there are actually more than 50 because there are a lot of exclusives.
Soul said Swobi’s current strategy to expand its footprint is either rolling out stations or partnering with gas stations, utilities or the retail market. Each station has an area of less than 1 sq. m, which makes it easy to squeeze into first-class properties in the city center, where exchanges will be most in demand.
According to Soul, Series A brings Swooby to a monetary value of around $30 million, or about $33 million. Later this year, the startup intends to enter the double-digit A+ round and attract another strategic partner, such as a major pan-European utility or even an automaker from the East that is open to new markets.