By Lisa Wang / reporter
Kwang Yang Motor Co (光 陽 工業), which has been selling gasoline powered scooters under the KYMCO name for more than half a century, is changing its brand image by introducing a second brand name, Ionex, for its electric scooter business to challenge market leader Gogoro Inc (睿 能 創意) .
Kwang Yang said he wanted to change consumer attitudes towards the company by creating an independent sales team to sell his electric two-wheelers. Ionex Taiwan Co (台灣 光 捷), a wholly-owned subsidiary, is tasked with developing a new marketing strategy and establishing additional sales channels.
Kwang Yang increased Ionex’s paid-up capital from NT $ 15 million to NT $ 300 million (US $ 10.51 million) in December 2019, according to data from the Department of Commerce.
Photo: Yang Ya-min, Taipei Times
Prior to this year, Kwang Yang’s electric scooters were sold in existing outlets alongside the gasoline powered scooters since their debut three years ago.
“We have to compete with a strong rival in the home market. Kwang Yang has long been the nation’s largest manufacturer of gasoline-powered scooters. This brand image is deeply ingrained in the minds of local consumers, ”said Kwang Yang chairman Allen Ko (柯勝峰) in an interview with a small group of reporters on Wednesday last week.
Gogoro holds 77 percent of the domestic electric scooter market, while Kwang Yang only has 4 percent, according to figures from the Industrial Development Bureau.
As of Thursday, Gogoro had sold 345,190 electric vehicles, up from 19,215 for Kwang Yang.
“To get consumer attention we need to introduce a new brand and get rid of KYMCO,” said Ko. “You will no longer see KYMCO in our electric scooter commercials.”
The company has replaced the KYMCO label for its new electric scooters with Ionex, he said.
Kwang Yang plans to open eleven of its own stores for its electric scooters, so-called Ionex stores, within a month and more than quadruple that number to 50 by the end of this year.
However, Kwang Yang is currently not ready for a split, said Ko.
Electric scooters and gasoline-powered scooters are designed and manufactured in the same factories to keep them cost-effective, Ko said.
The Ionex brand will only be carried over to the local brand as the KYMCO brand is better known in global markets, Ko said.
Kwang Yang offers electric scooters to GrabWheels, an electric scooter sharing service arm of Grab Holdings Inc in Indonesia, he said.
Battery supply is just as important if Kwang Yang is to become a key player, Ko said.
This was Kwang Yang’s weakness as the company had previously introduced scooters that drivers could only charge at home or at charging stations, he said.
Kwang Yang plans to build 1,500 battery swap stations by the end of this year and that number will increase to 4,000 by the end of next year.
It partners with Chunghwa Telecom Co (Chunghwa Telecom), President Chain Store Corp (Unified Super Merchant), Fubon Insurance Co (Fubon Property & Casualty) and Carrefour Taiwan (Carrefour) to install battery swap stations.
To expedite deployment, Kwang Yang is considering enrolling electric scooter drivers who have space that can be converted into a small battery swap station, he said.
He attributed a shortage of fully charged batteries to a slump in domestic electric scooter sales last year, in addition to adjustments to government purchase subsidies.
In order to ensure sufficient battery supply, Kwang Yang takes a different approach than its main competitor.
The company will stop selling electric scooters if the pace of battery change can’t keep up with the pace of its sales growth, Ko said.
It also offers the driver two types of batteries – for charging or replacing.
Gogoro drivers can only swap batteries for fully charged ones at battery swap stations, which requires an intensive network.
Comments are moderated. Keep comments that are relevant to the article. Comments that contain abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or advertising will be removed and the user blocked. The final decision is at the Taipei Times’ discretion.