After a successful launch in several American cities, scooters are now invading the streets of Europe. They are rapidly becoming part of the urban landscape, and the developers of scooter-sharing solutions want to believe they will, eventually, replace the bike.
It all started just a few months ago, when two competing bike-sharing companies (who were each barely a year old) launched their free-loading solution for electric scooters. LimeBike first deployed its lime-coloured e-scooters in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, Washington D.C. — and, as of June 22nd, in Paris, the first of many in Europe. “Paris is our first big-scale deployment in Europe, we have big ambitions in Europe,” Lime France director Arthur-Louis Jacquier told Reuter. In fact, the company plans to launch in no less than 26 European cities by the end of 2018. Its main opponent is Bird, another bike-sharing start-up that recently added e-scooters to the mix: it launched in the exact same cities as Lime, plus Austin, and plans to expand to 50 U.S. markets by the end of 2018. As reports TechCrunch, according to a recent job posting, Bird also has its eyes on the European market.
Now, everybody wants in on the opportunity: Spin, another bike-sharing company, has recently expanded to e-scooters, and newcomer Skip is already roaming the streets of Washington D.C.. In France, Strasbourg-based start-up Knot is developing both docked and free-floating solutions for scooters with no electric assistance: in the summer of 2017, they started testing their services in a few cities neighbouring Paris, and are working to soon launch in Germany and the United States. So far, 2018 is proving that, once the epitome of uncool, scooters are now generating unprecedented enthusiasm.
The ultimate solution for the last-mile problem
So why all the frenzy? On paper, scooters look like the easiest of solutions for clean mobility. When they’re electric, they make it easier for everyone to choose a softer means of transportation: it is a breeze to go uphill and the e-scooter gets you anywhere, fast. “They’re a really great option if you are trying to flexibly and quickly get somewhere that’s five or six blocks away,” explains to Condé Nast Traveler Caen Contee, head of marketing at LimeBike. “We see ourselves taking on the last-mile problem.” For Travis VanderZanden, former Uber and Lyft executive and founder of Bird, the goal is in fact not to replace bikes, but cars: “Our long-term goal is to get people out of cars, reduce traffic, and cut carbon emissions. We hope to replace as many as possible of the 40 percent of car trips in the U.S. that are less than two miles,” he says in the same article. On the other hand, manual scooters have the advantage of being allowed to ride on the sidewalk, as explains Knot co-founder Polina Mikhaylova to Business Insider France, which is a winning point for people who would be afraid to ride a bike or an electric scooter among traffic. Scooters are light and they don’t take much parking space (a problem residents are frequently complaining about with free-loading bikes) ; they don’t require specific infrastructures and are arguably easier to maintain than bikes.
Move over, bike-sharing
As a matter of fact, scooters look like they could be a credible alternative to bike-sharing solutions, which are increasingly failing and have trouble reinventing themselves. A dozen years ago, the bike stations that flourished everywhere in Europe were a revolution that durably contributed to making bicycles part of urban mobility again. Today, the Vélib in Paris has proven to be a complete disaster, due mostly to vandalism and the impossible maintenance costs of keeping the float in shape. Free-floating bike solutions were no more successful: in early 2018, Hong-Kong based start-up Gobee Bike announced it was leaving the European market after only a few months of activity. At times, up to 90% of its float in Lille, France, needed repairing, and the company also had to face an unexpected number of thefts and unauthorised privatisations. Some, like Les Échos, also highlighted the fact that no docks means it takes much more time to identify and retrieve the broken bikes. Scooter providers apparently believe they will not have these sorts of problems, or at least that they will be more manageable. In Paris, Lime says it retrieves all of its scooters every night between 9pm and 6am to recharge and repair them if needed.
Who gets to shape the future of urban mobility?
But so far, it hasn’t been smooth sailing either: in the United States, residents are starting to rebel. “The scooters are a hazard zipping past pedestrians. They’re always blocking sidewalks and ramps, getting vandalized and thrown in the park (and the canal, and the creek)”, writes Wamu, the American University magazine, which is based in D.C.. San Francisco’s lawyer, Dennis Herrera, sent a “cease and desist” letter to Spin in April 2018 after receiving many complaints about the e-scooters. The city of Santa Monica sued Bird after a series of accidents, including a couple that resulted in a severe head injury and a broken arm, respectively.
However, the main concern posed by the boom of scooter-sharing services may be elsewhere. After testing the Lime scooter, Télérama underlines that having to use bike lanes “might reduce even more the very little space dedicated to bikes in the capital”, and gets the feeling that the start-up “innovates for an enthusiastic minority” and “often forgets the silent majority.” As writes the Dallas Magazine, “some anxiety over unregulated tech startups having such a deciding role in the future of transportation is justified.” It mentions a few studies that suggest that Uber and Lyft, instead of ushering a transport revolution, have made city traffic worse, since people tend to choose ridesharing over walking, cycling, or public transit. “The public, not LimeBike, should dictate transportation policy,” it concludes. Not LimeBike, nor any other private initiative. Time will tell if European cities take on the task of developing efficient and sustainable scooter-sharing services — hopefully with more success than the bike.
On Thursday 24 and Friday 25 May, the winners of the European Startup Prize for Mobility met in the Capitol of Estonia for the first stop of the tour of EUSP’s European tour.
Base Camp: the event Latitude59, one of the biggest event on digitalisation in Europe. For two days, Voltia, Tracefy, DiniTech/NRGkick, Atsuke, Appyparking, AddSeat, Whim by Maas Global and Cocolis had the opportunity to pitch in front of investors and to get to know the Baltic ecosystem.
During the workshop: “Why and how to set up your mobility startup in the Baltics?” Finalist startups have discussed with local authorities and decision-makers to better understand the Baltics market.
We had the great honour to welcome Minister Kadri Simson, Estonian Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure to introduce the workshop. All the speakers have presented the advantages of the Estonian ecosystem and have highlighted success stories made in Estonia such as Skype or Taxify.
Speakers included: Arnaud Castaignet, Head of Public Relations, Republic of Estonia’s e-Residency program; Egita Polanska, Program & Partnerships, Startup Wise Guys a famous accelerator; Anu Oks, Managing Director, EstBAN a Baltic VC network; Toomas Seppel, Hedman Partners Law Firm; Simona Frazzani, Associate Grimaldi Studio Legale; Martin Gorosko head of Tallinn Tehnopol & Karl Aru, Expansion manager of Taxify who have recently raised $175M led by Daimler at a $1B valuation.
After a fun and relaxing evening with all the participants of Latitude 59, the 8 finalists had the great opportunity to have a demonstrating booth at the event and could present their activities to the interested participants (and yes, absentees are always wrong ;)).
The objectives of the first tour of the tour have been met: the finalists had the opportunity to make new contacts, reach investors outside of their home country. and Pitch and pitch again! But EUSP is also a human adventure, meetings and the creation of a community of mobility startups!
We are looking forward to our next meeting at IFA – Berlin for the next stop of the Tour on 3-4 September.
On Thursday 24 and Friday 25 May, the European Startups Prize for Mobility (EUSP) winners will travel to the Estonian capital for the first stop of their European tour. The second stop will take place at the beginning of September in Berlin.
This event follows the ceremony that awarded the 10 most promising European mobility startups on 22 February in Brussels.
This first stop of the tour will take place at Latitude59, which is one of the major European digital events. During two days, EUSP startups will have the opportunity to present their projects and become familiar with the Baltic ecosystem, including local decision-makers and investors, through roundtables or pitches. We will be honoured by the presence of Kadri Simson, Estonian Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure.
Created at the initiative of Karima Delli, Member of the European Parliament, Ecologist and President of the Transport Committee of the European Parliament, the EUSP is dedicated to European startups focused on green and connected mobility. The prize was launched in December 2017 under the high patronage of the European Commission, the European Parliament and several economic stakeholders (Blablacar, BCG and Via ID). It received more than 500 applications.
The goal is simple: create the European silicon valley of mobility.
On February 22, a jury of experts announced the four winners of the prize. The winners of this first edition, Cargonexx, Cocolis, Klaxit and MaaS Global will benefit from tailor-made support designed by The Boston Consulting Group, Via ID, Parallel Lawyers and Grimaldi Studio, to accelerate their development. For the finalists, the adventure continues with the European tour UESP which will take them to several major European capitals and give them high visibility at major Tech events in Europe (Barcelona, Paris, Berlin, Copenhagen & Tallin). The jury also rewarded three very promising mobility start up, Drivy, Stuart and Txfy, with a special mention from the jury, as well as Switzerland’s BestMile.
Find the complete program of the European Startups Prize’s activities in Tallinn.
Press contact :
Cyrielle Disseldorf : +33 6 72 81 82 59
Maggy Gerbeaux : +33 674 30 30 31
We need to optimise the use of the assets we already own !
The automotive industry provides more than twelve million jobs in Europe. Hence, its future concerns us all. Automotive companies are re-imagining their business models and looking to the future. It is common knowledge that tomorrow’s car should be clean, hybrid or electric, affordable.
Despite the combined efforts of car manufacturer and of Original Equipment Manufacturers, the existing car fleet and most of new vehicles are equipped with an Internal Combustion Engine. In short, the automobile industry is still embedded in the past.
At Oscaro, we are committed to working towards a better use of the existing automotive fleet. Cars add convenience, comfort, security, and control and have become essential to our daily lives. Yet shifting to a clean future means that we need to take care of the present first: in this article, we want to share a few ideas on how to deal with it.
Innovation for a better use of the world vehicle fleet
Innovation in the mobility space, to which automobiles belong, is coming from start-ups and innovators, not only from automobile companies.
As an example, the field of intermobility is emerging quickly. We can now use various modes of transportation for a single journey. Many European start-ups are proposing projects involving multiple mobility solutions (train, bus, car, bicycle, etc.) and they are currently developing user friendly techniques to reduce the use of the private car.
Collaborative platforms will bring new mobility solutions to consumers as well: carpool and car sharing services… Most of them are emanate from the private sector and start-ups. The EUSP is a first step in that direction, which is why we’ve decided to support it.
Reducing the carbon footprint of mobility of today’s vehicles
The key to responsible mobility is to increase awareness on grey emission between businesses and consumers. One way of doing this is by using the life cycle assessment approach to measure the impacts of a vehicle from the design phase to its end-of-life, thus enabling it to effectively target environmentally positive actions.
Usually, production represents 25% – 30% of the vehicle’s impact on the planet and this corresponds to:
- Raw material extraction and the production of the parts
- Assembly of the vehicle, including manufacturing inputs and outputs.
The use phase impact of the vehicle on the planet represents 70% of its impact on the planet. To illustrate the approach, the Global Warming Potential of two cases was simulated, using Renault Lifecycle assessment (Megane IV).
- In the first case, a consumer keeps its vehicle during 300 000 km, whereas a second consumer chooses to invest in the next generation of a similar vehicle.
- In the second case, the new vehicle is supposed to consume and pollute 20% less than the previous one. The original vehicle is recycled.
The results of this comparison are illustrated on the graph above, and support a simple yet powerful idea: from an environmental and sustainability perspective, it makes more sense to focus on repairs and extending lifespan instead of building products that are meant to be renewed. It is our mission to make sure that cars are durable and reparable.
It is our responsibility to stand up for a Right to Repair!
For hundreds of years, Europeans have been buying products without worrying if they had the ability to repair them. They simply could.
Oscaro’s ambition is to help people have a great time with their rides. We achieve this goal by spreading the DiY values and providing a unique and fulfilling online experience that enables them to diagnose, maintain, repair, and upgrade their vehicles.
In 2007, the European Parliament argued that automotive data should be freely available as public good for independent repairers, distributors and consumers.
More than 10 years later, car maintenance has become much more complex: parts are not always available, data and repair manuals are still not accessible.
As a key player in the field of independent repair and environmentally engaged organizations, we ask for:
- The right to fix our own product, or to choose someone we trust to do so
- A fair access to service parts and tools, as well as diagnostics
The European startup ecosystem has been thriving in recent years with mobility being one of the fastest-growing sectors, attracting innovators who are seeking to make a positive social and environmental impact.
Unfortunately, a lack of investment makes it hard for mobility startups to scale up as they must continually raise funds to simply stay in business.
Connecting funders and founders must therefore be a top priority for institutions and independent platforms which want to accelerate the shift towards a future of more sustainable mobility.
For more information:
Europe’s got talent, now it’s time to fund the startup movement
Funding the Movement
It’s nearly Easter, and that means…endless traffic jams. Well, not quite endless – there was one in Beijing in 2010 that lasted for 12 days, so you will hopefully get off easier than that – but it’s never much fun.
So while we are probably some way from consigning traffic jams to the scrap heap of history, we seem to be moving that way for fossil-fuel powered vehicles and dirty mobility options. We need alternatives, and that’s why we at the Solar Impulse Foundation have committed to select 1000 clean, efficient and profitable solutions to protect the environment.
Clean transport implications
And while our scope goes beyond mobility, the implications of clean transport are about much more than just how we get around. For example, In Europe transport accounts for more than a third of our total energy use, and while electric vehicles are central to decarbonizing the transport sector, it will also cause the demand for electricity to skyrocket so how that electricity is produced, and the efficiency with which it is used, are key factors. Indeed, the amount of electricity needed could actually hold back the uptake of these clean technologies.
The point espoused by Bertrand Piccard, the chairman of the Solar Impulse Foundation and someone who knows a thing or two about clean – if unconventional – mobility – is that solutions exist that protect the environment and are economically viable and that rather being seen as an expensive cost, should be seen as opening up new industrial markets and creating jobs and profit.
What do some of these solutions look like?
Well, there’s a great variety; consider petrol vehicles, which are going to be with us for some time yet. Anti-smog have created a hydrogen fuel enhancement kit which injects hydrogen into the engine allowing for a more complete combustion of fuel in cars, thereby reducing engine emissions by up to 80% and increasing fuel efficiency by up to 20%.
Finding ways to improve efficiency are all over the place, and certainly includes the physical design of the vehicle. Airshaper are providing tools to help constructors figure out designs to reduce aerodynamic resistance, which accounts for more than half of the energy required to keep a heavy vehicle moving at 100 km/h, and reducing that resistance by 20% can cut overall fuel consumption by a tenth. Across the EU, lorries, buses and coaches are responsible for around a quarter of road transport carbon emissions. Or what about Solvay, who have found that by adding Silica to tires, they are able to reduce rolling resistance significantly, leading to a 7% improvement in fuel efficiency, and therefore reduced emissions for the same trip.
It’s not just for cars and trucks, though; the phrase “innovative and sustainable railway sleepers” may not be the stuff dreams are made of, but GreenRail have made just that; a sleeper that lasts longer, cost 40% less to maintain, and cuts down on noise pollution. Most remarkable though is that for every kilometer of train track, some 35 tons of recycled plastic and rubber are used in their manufacturing! They were selected as the Best Startup of 2017 at the second edition of Startup Italia Open Summit this past December.
And if we rethink urban mobility, let’s consider all those cities with rivers and lakes that can be used to reduce congestion, which is costly; Paris loses some 10Bn EUR in lost productivity each year because of it. That’s where Seabubbles comes in with their low-cost, energy-efficient electric water-taxi service. It’s quick, comfortable and runs off energy produced cleanly at its docking station. As you’ll see from the video below, it seems a lot more pleasant than sitting in traffic.
It’s clear that a great many solutions, in addition to the electric and hydrogen vehicles that will increasingly populate our roads, are part of this transition, and we are looking to help bring them to the fore. So as you sit, stuck surrounded by your fellow drivers pondering why you decided to take this drive in the first place, consider submitting your solution to be included for consideration as one of our 1000 Efficient Solutions.
Solar Impulse Foundation
Following the success of the first solar flight around the world, the Solar Impulse Foundation has launched the second phase of its action: selecting #1000solutions that can protect the environment in a profitable way, and bring them to decision makers to encourage them to adopt more ambitious environmental targets and energy policies.
Through the World Alliance for Efficient Solutions, Bertrand Piccard wants to federate the actors of the field in clean technologies and shed light on existing efficient solutions to fast-track their implementation. A new innovative and pioneering adventure has begun – together we can improve the quality of life on Earth.