We heard all about dockless bikes that are starting to replace some of the more traditional forms of transportation like the subway and rideshares. The trend does not stop there – now, electric scooters are being introduced by the same companies that brought us rideshares, carpools, dockless bikes, and soon-to-be flying cars.
These battery-powered scooters are modeled after the scooter you likely had during your childhood, but instead designed for middle-aged people as a way to get to work. The electric scooters are proving to be very popular so far, being introduced in a number of cities and used by hundreds of thousands of people just in a few months.
You may have seen some of these scooters lining the streets of cities near you. The way most companies work is that users take the scooter for a ride, and leave the scooter on the side of the street for when the next person is looking for one.
Valued 1.1 Billion
Lime has partnered with Uber to allow passengers to rent their electric scooters directly through the Uber app. Lime is currently available in 70 cities across the United States and Europe.
Skip is one of the smaller electric scooter players, with operations in Washington, D.C. As opposed to their main competitors, Skip prides themselves on working directly with transportation systems to be a permitted service.
Valued at 2 Billion
Bird is the most valued scooter company operating thus far. In just its first 30 days of operating in San Francisco, the company says 32,000 riders took almost 100,000 rides, traveling a total of 140,000+ miles.
Some compare electric scooters to Segways, with a less bulky design. Others view electric scooters as a transportation shift. It is hard to tell which will prove true. The scooters themselves travel at a rate of less than 10 miles per hour, a rate that would be easily passed by a bicycle. This may make scooters harder to use for a longer commute, and perhaps more ideal for a quick alternative to walking a few blocks.
The District Department of Transportation in Washington, D.C. released preliminary information that the scooter rides that were piloted in the city were not replacing car rides, but trips that would be otherwise made by walking.
Unsurprisingly, many of the companies with electric scooters introduced them before getting permission. Similar to how rideshare companies came about, the start-up companies decide that it is worth the risk to enter into cities without permits and ask for forgiveness after-the-fact. The Washington Post calls the strategy “Act fact, answer first”.
It is hard to predict how electric scooters will impact the future of transportation. Our guess is that the existence of these services will soon become one of the many options to take along with other rideshare and bikeshare services. We know people like having options, and the electric scooter will become one of the many available options for consumers in the next couple of years. Scooters may not replace cars, but they will definitely help people get to where they need to go faster than walking.