How micromobility operators can unlock a $300B industry

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Compared to cars, e-scooters are a low-carbon, quieter and cheaper mode of transport that can have a positive impact on urban mobility and the environment. However, despite their promising potential, the majority of the urban population regards them as either a toy or a public safety threat,

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The amount of enterprise investment in the industry is correspondingly low: since 2010, shared micro-mobility Received Only $9 billion in investment on a global scale Compare this with the $72.3 billion raised by US startups in the third quarter of this year alone. If we want to move towards a truly sustainable urban environment, where people choose low-carbon micromobility transportation over cars, we need to find ways to make this business profitable.

Initially, e-scooter operators were competing to attract riders’ attention by placing more and more e-scooters in the market, and a physical presence meant success. As cities began to adopt regulations and begin granting licenses, operators’ attention shifted to seeking approval from city officials as licenses secured their reach to end consumers and ensured long-term planning. allowed to create.

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Licensing also made things easier for investors, and startups that received licenses saw an increase in funding. For example, in 2021, Tier, Voi and Dott . players like raised A cumulative $490 million.

This sends a clear message to other e-scooter operators who aim to compete on the market: If you want to invest and grow, claim space in the cities first. Currently, this mainly applies to Europe, which has better infrastructure and serves as a testing ground for micromobility transportation and business models.

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However, when micro-mobility on a large scale proves efficient for urban communities, these practices are likely to expand to other regions, such as the US, where major cities already exist. building More bike lanes. Given that global micro-mobility by 2030 is Be expected To become a $300 billion to $500 billion industry, it is well worth the effort.

However, winning just one tender is not enough as licensed operators move on to the next round of competition. they both have to live up to the expectations end consumer and investors – that is, achieving profitability while offering the ultimate product and product experience.

So far, the e-scooter sharing business has not proved profitable, and the existing business model has a lot of room for improvement. The most obvious issues are costly charging and operation which can accounting for 60% of the cost, so even a little bit of optimization here would be beneficial.

So what can we do?

Operations may vary between companies, but charging scenarios are few. Micromobility operators either manually collect vehicles to bring them to charging warehouses at the end of the day or manually swap out dead batteries for new ones. Both of these involve manual labor, and some players have begun to offer solutions that aim to reduce this cost.

Taiwan-based e-scooter manufacturer Gogoro launched Swapping stations that essentially assign charging tasks to riders. As of now it is compatible with only two e-scooter brands. German operator Tier took a similar approach and recently roll over Tier Energy Network: Now, Tier riders can swap out batteries themselves using the Powerbox installed at local partner stores. However, if an operator goes for swapping, it must have at least two batteries in stock for each e-scooter in its fleet, and have battery cells. most expensive hardware components.

In addition, changing a route to swap batteries at brand-specific locations may worsen the product experience for some consumers and limit an operator’s user base, which is essential when competition is tight.

In addition, as the demand for micromobility grows, stations will need to be able to fit a large number of vehicles at once. This will create a demand for universal infrastructure. companies like kuhmute And PBSC Urban Solutions has partially addressed this issue and developed universal chargers compatible with various e-mobility vehicle types and brands, although many such solutions are electric contact-based and can therefore accommodate only a limited number of vehicles at a time. Huh. In addition, the stations are likely to contact oxidation and change the landscape of the city in two to three months.

In that case, a natural next step would be to roll out a one-type-fits-all charger with a significantly larger parking capacity. However once we start discussing parking spots, cities act as key stakeholders. They have to convert land already suitable for residential development into spaces to park cars, and they also have to assign it for e-scooter charging – both swapping stations and charging docks have overground hardware.

Some players have started to address this issue, and such products already exist in the electric car domain. For example, a US-based company Witricity Developed a ground charging pad that charges cars wirelessly and over-the-air vehicles after they are parked. The charger has no overground hardware, so it can double as a regular street or sidewalk. The absence of perishable parts also serves as vandalism protection.

If implemented in the e-scooter segment, this technology could improve unit economics by saving on extra batteries and the manual labor required to swap or plug them in. Such standardization will be beneficial for the end consumers and micromobility companies alike.

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