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Berlin-based Swobbee wants to bring micromobility battery swapping to Europe – TechCrunch

Swobbee, a Berlin-based startup working to commercialize battery swapping for micro-mobility vehicles, has a $6.5 million Series A led by new strategic investor EIT InnoEnergy, a major sustainable energy accelerator in Europe , which is supported by the European Union.

The startup will rely on both InnoEnergy’s resources and network in the European green tech space to expand its network of battery swapping stations across Germany and in two new European countries, according to Thomas Duscha, CEO and co-founder of the startup.

If Swobbee’s business concept sounds familiar, you’re probably thinking of Gogoro, the Taiwanese electric moped-making and battery-replacing giant that’s absolutely dominating its home country and expanding across Asia. The company recently got one Battery swap network in China and has plans to do the same in India.

“Our role model is Gogoro,” Duscha told TechCrunch. “Gogoros is a highly vertically integrated model with e-mopeds, but as we know, the e-moped will never be the number one mode of transport in Europe, so we believe in small mobility such as e-bikes, cargo bikes and kick scooters. ”

In addition to Swobbee’s focus on smaller micro-mobility vehicles, there are a few other differences between the German startup and Gogoro’s business models. By manufacturing its own mopeds and partnering with OEMs, Gogoro was able to commercialize and scale a type of battery. Swobbee’s swap stations can accommodate six different battery types for a range of vehicles, and the startup plans to onboard two more battery types this year to open up its network to more players.

“We’ve standardized it so that you just have to swap out one compartment, which is designed for a specific battery, and you can really build the infrastructure once and then adapt it to the needs of the city,” says Duscha, pointing out that Swobbee has integrated batteries from the vehicle manufacturers Segway and Okai in its battery changing system.

Since its inception in 2017, Swobbee mainly targets companies with homogeneous micro-mobility fleets, such as last-mile suppliers or shared micro-mobility operators, to test and extend its model. The startup has provided charging infrastructure to logistics service providers such as Hermes, DHL Logistics and DPD and is collaborating with joint operator Tier Mobility. While animal has its own battery-changing power grid geared towards driversthe work Swobbee does for Tier — and previously done for spin before the company gave up European operations and was bought from animal – located at the back end. Tier workers have used Swobbee stations to swap out batteries for dockless vehicles on the street.

Swobbee recently acquired one of the “top 3” micro-mobility operators as a customer, Duscha said, but declined to comment. However, he said the nature of this partnership would be very similar to Swobbee’s deal with Tier.

The goal for 2022 is not only to expand its fleet customers, but also to reach average consumers with private vehicles, which is closer to the Gogoro model.

“This year we are piloting a B2C model together with the European Union, where we want to find out if swappable batteries or battery sharing services could be a thing for European customers,” said Duscha. “We know it works pretty well in Asia, especially East Asia, but we need to see if it works in Europe too.”

This pilot project will be about giving Berliners vehicles without batteries and seeing how they cope with using the existing Swobbee battery swap network for charging. The logic behind this is that while there are many companies selling electric micro-mobility vehicles directly to customers, there is not yet a large service or maintenance network that would allow drivers to replace a battery that will likely be dead in a few years easy to upgrade. and long before the rest of the vehicle wears out.

For the pilot to be successful, Swobbee needs to expand its network. According to Swobbee’s app, the company currently has 19 public stations in Germany, nine of which are in or near Berlin, four in Stuttgart, two outside of Düsseldorf, one in Frankfurt and three in Freiburg. Dusha said the actual number is over 50 because many are exclusive.

Swobbee’s current tactic for expanding its footprint is to set up gas stations either itself or through partnerships with gas stations, utilities or the retail market, Duscha said. Each station is less than 1 square meter, making it easier to squeeze into prime downtown real estate where the swap is most needed.

Serie A puts Swobbee at a pre-money valuation of about €30 million, or about $33 million, according to Duscha. Later this year, the startup aims to raise a double-digit A+ round and add another strategic partner, such as a large, pan-European utility or even an Eastern vehicle manufacturer that is open to expansion into new markets.

Berlin-based Swobbee wants to bring micromobility battery swapping to Europe – TechCrunch Source link Berlin-based Swobbee wants to bring micromobility battery swapping to Europe – TechCrunch

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