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How Vietnamese are using e-scooters to save businesses from power outages Leave a comment


Vietnam has millions of e-scooters and an unstable power supply. One might think that these two things signal trouble when put together, but here’s how some Vietnamese are using their e-scooters to improve stability of the electrical grid and help small businesses avoid blackouts.

In Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam’s most populous city, power outages are quite common. They’re often scheduled or announced ahead of time, but power outages do occur on a weekly basis, in various parts of the city.

As a result, larger businesses will have a generator of some sort on hand to keep things running when the power goes out, but many Vietnamese have small, single-person proprietorships (think small shops, food carts and so on) that may not have the resources for something like that.

But there’s an active and enterprising community of e-scooter users who are trying to offer a mobile solution to this problem – with the big batteries they carry around in their bikes.

The initiative, called Re:Charge has been taken on as a grassroots effort by owners of Dat Bike e-scooters. Dat Bike is a local Vietnamese brand, launched in 2019 and still relatively small in the scheme of things, but with an active online community around its users.

Dat Bike put together a video showcasing the effort from its community:

So far, the Re:Charge effort has been taken on by a relatively small set of about ~10 users, but they want to expand their reach, tell their story and get more people involved.

They’ve set up a hotline for local businesses in Ho Chi Minh City, and so far have helped multiple eateries, bakeries and coffee shops, a tattoo parlor, and a grocery store.

And as this is a community effort, Re:Chargers haven’t been charging businesses for their services, they just want to help out. Though they’re happy to accept free snacks in return from the ice cream freezers they save.

Dat Bike e-scooters have up to a 5kWh battery, and can be paired with a 1kW or 2kW inverter to turn them into a 220V power source. These inverters can run for 4 and 2 hours respectively at full load and on a full battery, and are enough to power, for example, the lights and 2 freezers for a small convenience store for 3-4 hours.

The group has been publicizing its efforts through a Facebook page and TikTok account (both in Vietnamese), and is hoping to recruit more users to join in the effort.

Electrek’s Take

While this is a small effort (so far), in a country that Electrek doesn’t cover much or get a bunch of readers from, when we were pitched this story by email I couldn’t resist.

Not only is it a fun little story about a community effort that’s providing help for small businesses who need it, it also helps to highlight one of the practical benefits of EVs.

One of the common refrains about EVs is “what if the power goes out?,” but here we have an example of EVs offering a benefit when the power goes out.

We’ve seen it before, with EVs being more resilient in disasters and providing mobile power for flood response. But the Dat Bikers show that you don’t need a 98+kWh battery to solve problems, just a comparatively small 5kWh battery can help for certain applications.

If we finally start to see the proliferation of bidirectional charging, V2L, V2G and what-have-you, this sort of thing could become more common, and can showcase a big potential benefit of EVs.

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