2022 Could be the Year of Electric Scooter Ride Sharing
Will 2022 see the electric scooter ride-sharing phenom fly to new revenue heights after its phenomenal inception in 2018? Or will this latest craze, which raised record-breaking levels of capital, fizzles, and crashes due to potentially unsustainable operating practices?
Opinions on the scooter ride-share topic are varied, loud, and in high supply. But one thing is certain, all eyes are watching what direction this newest trend in urban transport will scoot towards this upcoming year.
What the nascent stage of electric scooter ride-sharing shows!
Initially, electric scooter ride-sharing companies, like Bird and Lime, invaded American urban centers. Fleets of shiny, new-fangled, emission-free electric scooters were released into urban centers with an arguably anarchistic attitude. City officials were not consulted.
Pedestrians were blindsided by the sudden infiltration as electric scooters went zipping past on sidewalks. Inexperienced riders, without clear rules of conduct, seemingly wreaked havoc causing outrage. In some instances, injuries were sustained from people being run over.
Very quickly the conversation surrounding scooter ride-share went from curious to problematic. So problematic that several cities: Seattle, West Hollywood, San Francisco, and others, promptly placed bans on scooter companies. Scooter wars have ensued, and neither side is backing down.
Amongst all the controversy, love for, and poop smearing being done in response to e-scooters, it’s hard to overlook what the electric scooter craze may be revealing: there is a need for change within the landscape of urban city centers’ transport options.
Ford Motor Company may agree. November 2018, Ford announced it’s acquiring Spinvi, a bike and scooter-sharing startup, as part of its mobility division, FordX, for 100-million. Earlier in the year, they acquired Autonomic and TransLoc, indicating, Ford sees change is happening within the world of personal transportation, and they plan to be part of the revolution.
Other big players in the ride-sharing world are paying close attention; both Uber and Lyft have made substantial investments in Lime. It’s easy to see that a shift in urban travel styles is underway and electric scooters may be the ones leading the charge.
Despite the chaos scooter rideshare companies evoked in 2018, the overall benefit they can bring to urban hubs can not be dismissed. Decreasing pollution, lower traffic congestion, and less reliance on fossil-fuel-run vehicles within urban cores is a real possibility with scooter inclusion. Cities willing to work with electric scooter ride-share companies, to integrate them into the urban landscape, will likely see benefits including decreases in CO2 emissions, traffic congestion, and noise pollution.
Does the current business model allow for success?
Heaving a pile of low-cost electric scooters on public streets for users to discover and hopefully fall in love with may appear, at first glance, how electric scooter ride-share companies stumbled upon their business.
On the contrary, the electric scooter ride-sharing industry is big business. 2018 saw the birth of two financial unicorns from within this nascent industry, Bird first, followed by Lime, with Bird earning its glittery unicorn horn in record time -less than one year. Hopes and hype are undoubtedly high for the latest offspring of the ride-sharing world, but do these companies have the right business strategies for continued success? Some factors that may get in the way of maintaining a steady profit margin growth could include:
- Maintenance and replacement costs of a scooter.
- Sustainable affordability for riders as cities add fees and taxes.
- Multiple scooter ride-share companies, competing within the same area.
- Affordability and portability of electric scooters may see riders opt to purchase their own instead of using a ride-share.
In addition to traditional challenges new start-ups have to compete and grow through, rideshare companies, like Bird and Lime, deal with the additional twist of swaying public opinion. Smart businesses will see them become accepted among all citizens as part of the urban landscape.
Rideshare start-ups that work with cities in the development of regulations could be the ones to hold on to their unicorn status, and not get bogged down with legal fees. Those that provide micro-mobility options beyond the electric scooter could be the ones that thrive once the glitter and dust of this phenom settle. If the scooter ridesharing just becomes a fleeting trend, rideshare startups without alternate micro-mobility options could fail.
Demographic Based Viability- Who are the customers? Is it Tech-Bro’s forever?
The number of trips taken on electric scooters is loudly high-fived by the ride-sharing companies, and it’s no wonder, as the numbers have risen exponentially. In its first year of operation, Bird announced their scooters had taken over ten million trips. Other e-scooter rideshares boast trip numbers into the millions as well. People are clearly using, and paying for, this latest of transport options. Despite many online sources exposing the nefarious world of e-scooters and their riders, popular opinion of the micro-mobile gadgets is mostly positive.
Finally A Ray of Light
The type of users is more diverse than expected as well. It’s not just the classic, tech-bro crowd scooting about. Women are getting on-board with using electric scooters, initial results show women are opting for e-scoot rides over another common rideshare option, bicycles. Reasons for that are not understood, but Regina Clewlow’s report found “electric scooters may enjoy more support and adoption by women.”
It appears e-scooters are also a good fit for individuals with lower incomes, “dockless electric scooters may also enjoy higher adoption rates by lower-income groups and could potentially help cities make progress on equity goals.”
As the expansion of electric scooter rideshares continues, we’ll find out if people are willing to scoot to and fro as a regular means of transportation or if it’s just a hot, new, trend of the day.
E-scooter is Here to Stay Due to Environment Friendliness
Electric scooters are at the forefront of the growing micro-mobility industry; an industry that’s expanding in response to population-dense urban cores struggling with traffic congestion, air pollution, and parking woes. The groundwork being done by today’s grassroots e-scooter advocates may pave the way for other micro-mobility options that are bound to come. As they create the framework for micro-mobility travel within city’s we are sure to see more options introduced with time.
The success of the brightest, and loudest, electric scooter unicorns in 2022 will likely depend on combined efforts between municipalities, those who value the potential benefit electric scooters can bring, and the electric scooter companies, who need municipal approvals to access their customers.
The number of countries and cities adopting and launching e-scooter is on the rise every single day. This is causing healthy competition between the tech companies to offer various ride-sharing solutions. The demand for custom ride-sharing solutions is rising.
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