Why do shared bike companies switch to electric scooters?

Why do shared bike companies switch to electric scooters?

[Guide] The US Lime shared bicycle company and other non-pile shared bicycle companies turned to the field of electric scooters, and the supply of scooters has exceeded that of shared bicycles.

In Mountain View, California, there are no piles of shared bicycles of different colors. The orange spin quickly rose and disappeared quickly. The small yellow car OFO was in financial crisis, and Lime (green car) is expected to withdraw in mid-March.

According to news reports, there are similar situations in several cities. In the next month, the Lime shared bikes controlled by the mobile app will be withdrawn from San Mateo, California, Hartford, Connecticut, and other cities. In some cities, such as Seattle, Lime will convert bicycles into electric bicycles, and they will vigorously promote scooters.

“Lime tells us that it is now focused on the scooter business rather than the bicycle, in fact they are giving us a notice,” said Mountain Planner transportation planner Nate Baird.

Non-pile shared bicycles and electric scooters are blown out in the short-haul mobile market, and the entire short-haul mobile market also covers shared cars and other shared modes of transportation. In 2018, the industry was booming, mergers and acquisitions, financing, and competition among start-up companies.

▲ On the streets of Paris, a man riding a Lime electric scooter


Lime is the company that enters electric scooters from bicycles at the latest. In February 2018, he entered the electric scooter market. In April, Spin quietly ended the shared bicycle business. In the next few months, Ford acquired Spin, becoming the first car head company to enter the short-haul mobile market.

Mobai and OFO have taken up the urban space resources in the world, which is very different from the concept of city managers. They started to withdraw from some cities in the US last summer.

Shared bicycle giant Lyft entered the market in 2018, promoting electric scooter projects in nine major cities and acquiring Motivate, the largest shared bicycle operator in North America.

Lime, who abbreviated the brand name “LimeBike” last August, said that focusing on electric scooters solved a simple demand problem. A Lime spokesperson said, “The riders are voting with their feet. They support Lime’s electric vehicles, indicating that scooters are no longer a joke, but a more flexible means of transportation.”

Data from the data platform Populus, which studies shared transportation equipment, shows that electric scooters contributed 3.6% of travel rates in 2018. The report also shows that the use of electric scooters in older people is higher than that of bicycles.

Local government officials are gradually learning about such data, and they are eager to get public data on which transportation services are more effective.

“Many companies tell us that the data performance of the electric scooter project is better than that of the shared bicycle project.” Baird is analyzing the 2018 data in an attempt to choose one of the shared bicycle operators and electric scooter service providers to fill Lime in the mountain view. The location where the city is hollow.

According to data from the Portland Transportation Bureau, during the period of August-November 2018, the number of people using 2,000 electric scooters was about 700,000. During the same period, the number of shared bicycle trips was only 134,000.

“Companies are naturally profitable, and they get more travel data than scooters,” said Chris Carrao, senior transportation planner in Cubertino, California. The city of Cubertino is still considering the introduction of a pile-free shared bicycle system, but the rapid change in the industry has made urban planners in a dilemma.

▲Lime bikes and scooters can be unlocked with the same mobile app


“We are deeply disappointed by the increasing number of shared bicycle companies focusing on electric scooters,” says Carrao, who also said that he is not opposed to the development of electric scooters, but rather to their sustainability. They heard that the life of electric scooters is only 1-3 months. Lime did not disclose the average service life of its own scooters, and other manufacturers did not make any comments.

Lime positions her role as the best choice for car travel, even if it means giving priority to scooters rather than bicycles. “We believe that the best way to expand Lime’s influence in the local community is to demonstrate the convenience of the product and our willingness to make timely adjustments based on the user’s preferences and needs,” said Lime’s spokesperson.

In some cities, the public protested because of the space occupied by scooters. A city design team in Cincinnati delineated the parking area for electric scooters and painted them to solve the problem. Others have raised concerns about security. The Washington Post reported last fall that electric scooters caused an increase in emergency numbers. However, the collision data between electric scooters and other vehicles is still unclear. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is currently conducting its first research on electric motorcycles in Austin, Texas.

▲Lime will pay more attention to the scooter and quietly offline the shared bicycles in some cities.


At the same time, Lime’s business growth is gratifying. The two-year-old startup launched a car-sharing service called LimePod in Seattle this month that will compete with companies such as car2go. A few days ago, Lime hired the first chief financial officer with a high salary to seek more financing. The company’s valuation has reached $2 billion, and as of February this year, its latest round of investment totaled $310 million. Last week, it partnered with Google Maps to display rental service options directly on the Google Maps app.

Last year, Uber bought shares in Lime. Uber also acquired Jump, one of the few non-pile shared bike start-ups that still sees the growth of the bicycle business. In October last year, Jump in the service area of ​​Sacramento, California, the number of electric bicycle rentals exceeded the car rental.

Lime said it will retain shared bike services in some cities, but is not sure how much will be retained until mid-March. As for what it means to turn to an electric scooter for urban cyclists, planners remain on the sidelines.

“This is a learning process,” Baird said. “The industry is fast changing, we can only guess.”

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