• Electric Mobility
  • Mobility Services
  • E-Bikes
  • Electric Scooters
  • smart cities

The Electrification of Micromobility Is Creating New Business Opportunities

Ryan Citron
May 03, 2019

Bicycle

Bicycle and scooter sharing programs, particularly dockless ones, have exploded across the US over the last 2 to 3 years. According to the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO), 84 million trips were taken on shared bikes and scooters in the US in 2018, more than twice as many trips in 2017. Roughly 36.5 million of the trips were on station-based bikeshare, 9 million on dockless bikeshare, and 38.5 million on shared e-scooters (all dockless).

Market Share of Micromobility Trips Taken, US: 2018

Market Share of Micromobility Trips Taken in US in 2018 pie chart

(Sources: Navigant Research, National Association of City Transportation Officials)

Micromobility Is Going Electric

Two key technology trends are emerging in the micromobility market:

  • Shared e-scooters are replacing dockless and station-based pedal bikes
  • E-bikesharing is proving to be more popular with consumers than regular bikeshare

Both trends are leading to the same result—electric products are winning out. Onerous municipal regulations, theft and vandalism, and consumer preferences have resulted in many mobility companies in the US transitioning their fleets from dockless bikes to shared e-scooters. Ford’s vice president of mobility marketing and growth, Brett Wheatley, recently stated that, across cities which have both bikes and scooters, there is “almost 10 times the preference for scooters when you look at how the usage rates are going." Scooters are generally more durable and can withstand harsh weather and vandalism better than traditional bicycles.

Meanwhile, e-bikes are estimated to be the highest-utilized shared micromobility device (in terms of rides/vehicle/day), as they are used twice as much as pedal bikes. Consumers generally prefer e-bikes since they make hilly terrain more manageable, are fun to use, and enable riders to arrive at their destination without breaking a sweat. Many bikeshare companies have plans to rapidly expand their e-bike fleets, while they reduce the number of available traditional bikes. For example, Lime is discontinuing use of its regular pedal bikes in Seattle and replacing them with e-bikes to make their entire fleet electric. Major cities such as Philadelphia, Austin, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, and New York are all adding or introducing e-bikesharing.

Electrification Trends Are Creating New Business Opportunities

As lithium ion battery technology improvements continue to result in longer vehicle ranges, lower weight, and reduced cost, consumer preferences are expected to continue shifting strongly toward electric micromobility options. As a result, micromobility companies are increasingly using independent contractors in the gig economy to collect, charge, and redistribute e-scooters. New businesses are also beginning to emerge. For example, GetCharged, Inc. (Charge) launched its business in April 2019 as a provider of charging and storage services for shared e-scooters and e-bikes. The company’s charging stations will be installed in privately owned parking garages (currently have a network of over 2,500 locations across North America) and will be compatible with most brands of e-bikes and e-scooters. While traditional bicycle sharing programs are being scaled down, particularly dockless ones, e-scooters and e-bikes are filling the void and creating opportunities for innovative new businesses at the same time.