BP’s Castrol invests $50M in Gogoro, leading EV battery-swapping provider

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According to a joint announcement, Castrol, a global leader in lubricants and part of the oil giant BP, today announced an investment of up to US$50 million in Gogoro, a global technology leader in battery-swapping ecosystems.

The first tranche of the investment will see Castrol invest US$25 million to receive 5.72% of Gogoro’s outstanding ordinary shares, followed by an anticipated second US$25 million investment in the form of a convertible note.

The move marks Castrol’s first step to unlock new diversification opportunities beyond its core lubricants and fluids business under its new ‘Onward, Upward, Forward’ strategy.

Many people know Gogoro from the brand’s high-tech electric scooters, but Gogoro is perhaps better described as an energy company. In addition to its often lauded electric scooters, Gogoro’s main product is its battery swapping standard, which includes nearly two million electric vehicle batteries produced and hundreds of millions of battery swaps to date.

Gogoro has also targeted its own global expansion at countries with high rates of scooter and motorcycle ownership, often in areas where two-wheeled vehicles outnumber cars.

“Two-wheelers are a critical part of our global product portfolio and as our customers transition to electric two-wheelers the Castrol brand has an important role to play in the eco-system,” said Michelle Jou, CEO Castrol. “Gogoro is a global leader in two-wheeler battery swapping and our investment in Gogoro is a strategic step towards diversifying our portfolio, remaining relevant in our customers’ lives, embracing new opportunities to future-proof our iconic 125-year-old brand and to create additional value for our shareholders.”

It’s no secret that Big Oil is investing heavily in electric vehicles, or more accurately, in the infrastructure that supports them. The writing has clearly been on the wall for years, and these global oil companies have the cash to throw around to ensure they stay heavily invested in the energy economy, regardless of the type of energy.

This is just the latest example, seeing BP’s subsidiary Castrol making a major play for a share of electric scooter battery swapping giant Gogoro. While battery swapping has had a hit-or-miss history among electric cars, much more prevalent electric scooters and motorcycles have shown worldwide success with battery swapping. Taiwan’s Gogoro is seen as the industry leader by far, touting hundreds of millions of battery swaps under its belt so far.

“Gogoro’s proven battery swapping platform and smart electric two-wheeler vehicles have demonstrated how cities can be transformed when given access to smart, sustainable and convenient portable power. This investment by Castrol is a testament to this success and enables us to expand even faster,” said Horace Luke, Founder and CEO of Gogoro.

I had the chance to use several Gogoro GoStations to swap batteries in my electric scooters in Taipei

I recently visited Taiwan, where I had the opportunity to test several Gogoro electric scooters and make ample use of the distributed battery-swapping stations during several days of riding around the island.

While touring the company’s scooter and battery factories, Horace Luke shared with me how critical the company’s production methods are to maintaining quality at scale. The robotically operated battery factory precisely produces Gogoro’s batteries without any human hands involved, rapidly churning out batteries to power not only its own scooters but also those built by nearly a dozen other companies creating vehicles to fit Gogoro’s battery standard.

Now, with a major investment from Castrol and several other significant recent partnerships, Gogoro looks set to supercharge the company’s impressive growth and international expansion.

Electrek’s Take

It’s pretty obvious that oil money is headed deeply toward electrification. While there’s a lot to unpack about where that money comes from, the fact that it is now going towards systems that can rapidly shift industries away from polluting forms of transportation is a major win for society (and for all of our lungs).

I think this also speaks to part of Gogoro’s game plan, especially with the several recent global expansions and partnerships. The company’s business model is based on scale, and it needs to invest and expand into large two-wheeler markets to make its battery-swapping as successful as it has been in major markets like Taiwan. This kind of funding can get it there more quickly, and it also shows that Big Oil sees the potential in two-wheeler battery swapping.

I also just received a company-wide email that Horace sent to all employees, which revealed more insight into the Gogoro CEO’s mindset as well as the scope of the partnership. “This announcement is the first step in a partnership between our companies that will modernize energy for two and three wheel mobility in the future. This investment and partnership from a global industry leader like bp Castrol is a clear recognition of our technology and business innovation and how Gogoro’s vision is shaping the future of mobility,” Horace wrote. “Gogoro battery swapping and vehicle innovation have the digitization and usability to play an important role in bp and bp Castrol’s transition from being a leading oil company to being a leading integrated energy company.”

I believe that’s exactly right, and this could be a great win-win for both companies, with the rest of us benefitting from a cleaner world to live in. And since Horace described this as just a “first step,” I’m eager to see what could be coming next.

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