Energized to Cover the “Last Mile” in Taiwan

Eye On Taiwan
Date: May 18, 2016
By: David Wang

While debatable but Skyway Lu may be the type of man who is cut out to promote not only a line of electric personal transporters to cover the “last mile” but also envision a 20160517_105233more commuter-friendly future for Taipei, parts of which are notorious for lacking sufficient parking spaces for residents and commuting workers.

Pictured proudly on an e-hover board in front of the banner hung adjacent the retailer Rider Techjoy at the former Flora Expo site at the corner of Min-Zu and Zhong-Shan Rds., Skyway, while tinkering with one of the e-transporters, spoke at length about the ins and outs of the fledgling business that he curtly describes as being the Wild, Wild West.

The “last mile” incidentally is the term given by urban planners typically designating the distance between a terminal station of public transport or one’s parked car and one’s destination, which may be office, shopping mall, uncle Tom’s home, or a Home Depot (or B&Q in Taiwan) outlet.

A self-described man with joie de vivre or passion for life, Skyway also candidly admitted to being a hotdog of sorts who has indulged his adventurous spirit to have tried auto racing in Pingtung in southern Taiwan and triathlon.

With educational background in information technology, Skyway has always been drawn to electric personal transporters as electric unicycles, scooters, hover boards, a variety of which are sold by Rider Techjoy as non-exclusive agent in Taiwan.

The man is a blogger on Facebook where his followers read his evaluations of all kinds of electromechanical products as e-personal transporters. Perhaps being candid to a fault, Skyway conceded that he is not the type of salesman usually preferred by businesses, which would only pay for positive reviews or ones specially spun for public relation or promotional purposes. But such scathing honesty apparently did not deter Kaifu from following Skyway’s blogs that eventually grew into their boss-employee relationship.

Established in 2014 and without the history-changing path taken by Elon Musk, Rider Techjoy came about because Kaifu Chen was looking for a new business venture after failing in his hotpot diner. After spotting an e-unicycle online, Kaifu was sufficiently motivated to fly to Beijing to negotiate with the supplier.

I am still working in probation but we’re talking about a potential partnership, said Skyway of Kaifu’s newly-found business.

There is plentiful market potential for e-personal transporters in Taipei and even Taiwan, said Skyway, who thinks, echoing the sentiment of most Taipei residents, that shortage of parking spaces in the city results in the perfect market for Rider Techjoy, and that the ample spaces in southern Taiwan, coupled with relatively less public transport, is also ripe for e-personal transporters.

You have to pay to take a bicycle onto a train in Taipei that makes the commute from home to work even more expensive than riding my motor scooter…that just contradicts the government’s effort to promote green transport…but you can easily carry this e-unicycle onto a train and MRT to cover the “last mile,” said Skyway, who also believes Rider Techjoy’s e-personal transporters are suitable for businesses with expansive premises as huge factories that call for green portable transporters to ferry personnel on inspections, errands.

Rider Techjoy’s innocuous line of e-personal transporters can cover pavement at up to 25kph or over quadruple the speed of walking.

Skyway even envisions e-personal transporters as e-hover boards, which he said come with gentle learning curve, as an alternative to motor scooters for police when making rounds in Taiwan.

But just as the “last mile” is challenging to cover easily, so is the gap between Skyway’s vision of a more commuter-friendly Taipei and reality in the city.

Laws in Taiwan currently do no cover the use of e-personal transporters as e-unicycles, scooters and Segway, said Skyway, who is obviously conscientious as he showed a brochure listing all the potential risks of riding an e-hover board in the real world with potholes, bumps and undulations.

You cannot legally ride an e-scooter on a road and should always yield to pedestrians on sidewalks, said Skyway, who added that since no laws exist to regulate e-personal transporters in Taiwan, Rider Techjoy’s business, as its rival in Taiwan that charges relatively higher prices due to higher-profile advertising, is technically illegal and a free-for-all.

Our Mini Pro e-hover board goes for about US$920…is an export-model with Bluetooth certification and UL-approved, said Skyway, who warned of the existence of Taiwanese suppliers that import cheap parts from China for assembly into e-transporters that undersell those from Rider Techjoy…go online to see reports of subpar batteries from such fly-by-night suppliers that catch on fire during recharging.

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