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A Terra Motors e-scooter which can be linked to an iPhone to access driving data is introduced to the public at a recent press conference in Japan. — VNS Photo Courtesy by Terra Motors

HCM CITY (Biz Hub) – Japan's leading electric motorcycle producer, Terra Motors Corp., says it will offer an e-scooter that can be linked to an iPhone in December.

 

The new product, which will be introduced in Viet Nam and other countries at the same time, could take market share away from Honda Viet Nam, according to the company.

In the future, the e-scooter will be able to work with other smartphone brands, Terra Motors said.

The A4000i motorbike is the world's first wireless, smartphone-connected e-scooter in which information about the battery and power consumption, mileage and speed can be displayed on-screen using an iPhone 3G up to its newest iPhone 5 model, according to the manufacturer.

The environmentally friendly but powerful bike is operated by a lithium battery that can last for 65 kilometres and give maximum speed of 65km per hour, according to Shingo Hayashi, general director of Terra Motors Viet Nam.

Hayashi said like other Asian countries, Viet Nam's environmental issues, especially air pollution and higher gasoline prices, as well as the inability of many Vietnamese to afford an automobile, have caused local residents to go green in transportation.

"As you know, motorbikes are very popular in Viet Nam, so I think the country is the most important market. And by 2015, it's expected that 30,000 e-scooters will be sold here. The number could be more because Viet Nam is a market with high potential," Hayashi told Biz Hub.

"We entered Viet Nam because the Vietnamese are motorbike-crazy. China is too risky, Indonesia is too big, and Thailand is migrating to cars," he said.

"The Vietnamese are also willing to pay a lot for their scooters and motorbikes," he said, adding that 10 units had already been ordered by local buyers.

"We need to change the perception of the consumer about e-motorbikes. Fuel prices are going up, and the Vietnamese are fascinated by new technologies," he said.

By 2015, Terra Motors estimated that it would manufacture 100,000 units worldwide.

The company said it would initially sell 2,000 units of the scooters in a limited edition.

Hayashi said that it would take at least five years for Vietnamese to convert to e-scooters from fuel-operated motorbikes.

Smartphones are beginning to prevail in the market, and shifting to e-scooters will be similar to the Vietnamese giving up their previous mobilephone brands to the currently popular Samsung and Apple phones, he said.

Going green

The development of the e-scooter market is one of many cooperation programmes between the Vietnamese and Japanese governments.

After carrying out a pilot project for 100 households in HCM City, the results showed that these bikes, compared to motorbikes, could help save 90 per cent of energy expenses.

 

In response to questions by visiting journalists from the BBC News about green transport, Huynh Kim Tuoc, director of HCM City's Energy Conservation Centre, said that officials were "very aware of the connection between energy security and environmental pollution reduction. The two matters have one solution, which is the efficient use of energy."

"Motorbikes are part of the culture of Viet Nam. However, motorbikes consume 30 per cent of fuel in Viet Nam, the main source of pollution in the country's urban areas, so converting to e-scooters is necessary."

The country has 21 million households and 37 million motorbikes. Every year, motorbikes consume 4.7 million tonnes of fuel, while Viet Nam has to import 65 per cent of its fuel.

The use of e-scooters would substantially reduce air pollution, Tuoc said.

By 2011, Terra Motors was already the market leader in the e-bike market in Japan and by 2012, it held 40 per cent of the market. The company manufactures 1,000 e-bikes per month in Japan.

Terra said each e-scooter would cost about US$4,000. The government is considering a 60 per cent subsidy for buyers over the next three years, according to Tuoc. — VNS


 



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