Postmortem Reveals What Went Wrong for Chinese Bike-Share

This week, winners emerge in D.C.’s war for permits, a mobility Unicorn dies, and the total U.S. scooter tariffs for 2019 are tallied, but first…

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Pump the Brakes!

Early Bird is nearly over.

At midnight tomorrow, Dec. 11, the $295/ticket Early Bird special for Micromobility America will end and prices will go up.

But! If you book now—like, right now—you can still save over $650 off the General Admission price. That means you pay two-thirds as much as those who wait, for the exact same thing.

It’s a no-brainer. If you haven’t reserved your spot at the California summit already, now is the time.

Buy Early Bird

Learn more about Micromobility America, taking place in the Bay Area on April 22 & 23, here.


In Pod News…

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In a new episode the podcast, Oliver Bruce talks to Wunder Mobility COO Sam Baker about the future of MaaS platforms and digitizing the 99% of transport operators that aren’t Uber, Lyft, Lime, or Bird.

Listen here.


What You Need to Know This Week

  • Leading off, China’s bike-sharing industry collapsed due to weak intellectual property rights and overeager investors, according to a new postmortem. “Investors drove [bike sharing start-ups] to grow faster and quicker than their competitors, to move to more cities and places, to lay out more bikes without even calculating breakeven points.” | Fortune

  • New York City is piloting a program to replace delivery vans and trucks with electric cargo bikes. To start, Amazon, DHL, and UPS will be allowed to operate up to 100 bikes and park them in the commercial loading areas that are typically reserved for motor vehicles. | NYT

  • Sidebar: Maybe UPS can thank NYC by paying the more than $6 million in parking fines it wriggled out of last year. | IBO NYC

  • Also New York’s decision on electric cargo bikes begs the question: Why is the city still policing immigrant delivery workers for using throttle ebikes? | Gothamist

  • German manufacturer Kumpan has acquired Scrooser, a big-wheeled emoped maker. | Electrek

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  • The city of Washington, D.C. awarded permits to Jump, Spin, Lyft, and Skip to deploy a combined total of 10,000 scooters. It also granted Jump and Helbiz permission to launch a combined total of 5,000 ebikes. Bird, Lime, Bolt, and Razor, the city’s four other shared micromobility providers, will no longer be allowed to operate. | WaPo

  • Studies shows men are twice as likely as women to say they’ve used a micromobility vehicle for a trip. Experts including Horace Dediu explore how different vehicle types could help fix the gender gap. | City Lab

  • Yet another safety-conscious scooter startup is offering riders a discount in return for helmet selfies. This week the operator in question is Europe’s Circ. | Circ

  • Circ is also toying with a subscription model in Portugal. Users can choose between two monthly plans: $27 for 30 minutes of use a day or $54 for one hour a day. | Trendy

  • A new research report by moped maker Unu breaks down the cost structure of moped sharing. | Unu

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  • Scooter rental platform Neuron Mobility has raised $18.5 million in a Series A round led by GSR Ventures. The Singapore-based startup, which is active across the APAC region, plans to use the new funds to continue its overseas expansion. | TechCrunch

  • Part of the reason Neuron may be thinking international is that its hometown has been cracking down hard on scooters. Singapore announced this week it will require people to pass a theory test before they can legally ride a scooter. | CNA

  • However Singapore’s bike-sharing is actually making a comeback after several dramatic exits last year. Three homegrown startups, SG Bike, Anywheel, and Moov Mobility, have been given permission to deploy a combined total of 45,000 bikes. | CNA

  • Vancouver mobility startup Damon has teased its first electric motorcycle. | TechCrunch

Damon Motorcycles Hypersport
  • Remember those ebikes that Lyft pulled from NYC this past spring because of faulty brakes? Apparently they have resurfaced in Chicago, stripped of their electric parts, as regular pedal bikes. A Lyft spokesperson says they are now safe to use. | NY Daily News

  • In San Francisco, Bird has laid off less than two dozen employees who were brought onboard as part of its acquisition of Scoot earlier this year. | SF Chronicle

  • Texas-based scooter startup Blue Duck has announced a partnership to pilot a new “centimeter-level” GPS positioning technology from the Irish mobility consortium Luna. The tests will be conducted on the private roads of Dublin City University’s campus because scooters are still illegal to use on public streets in Ireland. | Irish Times

  • DTC scooter startup Unicorn is shutting down without fulfilling any orders or offering any refunds. | The Verge

  • Superpedestrian’s much-anticipated hardware solution will come equipped with Joyride’s network software when it arrives in January. | Joyride

  • According to a study by the Seattle Department of Transportation, one-third of Jump bikes and two-thirds of Lime bikes were inoperable this summer due to broken parts or low batteries. Despite this poor service, the city’s dockless bike-share program hit record-high ridership of 750,000 trips between July and September. | Seattle Times

  • Ending a six-month scooter ban, Milan has awarded permits to three providers, Helbiz, Bit Mobility, and Wind, to deploy up to 750 vehicles each. | Milano Today

  • Tariffs on Chinese-made scooters cost U.S. importers $73 million in 2019. Lime, which started stockpiling scooters before the duties went into effect, is now considering moving some of its manufacturing from China to Southeast Asia. | Seattle Times


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✋ There Are 5 Things People Want from Cars—and Micromobility

This week, India’s micromobility startups keep raking in funds, meet the SUV of shared ebikes, and the world gets closer to solving scooter clutter, but first…

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Bye Bye Early Bird

All good things must end, even Early Bird.

Next Wednesday, December 11, the Early Bird special for Micromobility America tickets will come to a close.

That means you have about one week to reserve your spot at the world’s largest, most-informed gathering of micromobility experts ever before prices shoot up.

Grab your Early Bird tickets today for only $295.

Buy Tickets

Learn more about Micromobility America, which will take place in the Bay Area on April 22 & 23, 2020, here.


Thank You to Our Early Bird Partners

The Micromobility Conference wouldn’t be possible without the support of our sponsors.

For Micromobility America, we are pleased to announce that so far a host of leading tech and mobility companies—including both emerging and established players, spanning manufacturing, IoT, charging, insurance, and more—will showcase their products and solutions for over a thousand attendees.

If your company is interested in partnering or exhibiting at the California conference, contact us.


The Visual Narrative

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Want to know what to expect from Micromobility America? Let us show you.

We just published a visual narrative from the last conference, Micromobility Europe in Berlin, featuring photos from dozens of panels, presentations, vehicle demos, meet-ups, and more. You will likely recognize more than a few faces, both onstage and off.

Check it out here.


The 5 Outcomes

In a major new article, Horace Dediu articulates the things people actually want from mobility and mobile computing, arguing that they are not so different from each other—nor are they all that different from the things people desire from micromobility.

Be aware at all times that if you want to deliver mobility, you are in the business of delivering enablers. You are selling drills while the customer wants holes in their walls. What the customer is looking for is an outcome, and that outcome may be made possible with what you are selling, but it may not be the only way of getting it.

People want to work and earn, to meet others and to entertain themselves. The transportation business thinks people want machines for movement. But what they really want is either to be close to others or, alternatively, away from others. 

Let’s look at the world this way.

Strongly recommend reading the full piece here.


Brand-New Pod

Oliver Bruce and Horace Dediu reunite on the latest episode of the podcast for a far-reaching check-in covering:

  • Emerging vehicle standards for micromobility

  • The disillusionment of autonomous experts

  • Cybertruck’s big arrival

Fair warning: Horace’s view on Cybertruck may surprise you.

Listen here.


What You Need to Know This Week

  • Leading off, Bangalore-based micromobility startup Bounce has raised around $150 million as part of a Series D round led by B Capital and Accel Partners. This reportedly brings the company’s total funding to over $500 million. Bounce operates more than 17,000 gas- and battery-powered mopeds in three dozen Indian cities. | Yahoo Finance

  • Lime is aiming to be EBIT positive by as soon as 2020. | CNBC

  • Tier meanwhile has pledged to go carbon neutral in 2020. In addition to carbon offset projects, the company’s sustainability plan includes switching its fleet to swappable batteries (it is already 20% of the way there), powering its warehouses with renewable energy, transporting scooters long distances by rail instead of plane, and refurbishing its old fleet scooters for resale. | Tier

  • Shared micromobility startup Pony has unveiled a two-seater electric cargo bike that will be added to its fleets in two French cities. | Presse Citron

Pony
  • A recent study found that nearly a third of the bikes in Seattle’s dockless program were parked incorrectly, but only 2 percent were parked in a way that violated the Americans with Disabilities Act. | Komo News

  • One solution for bad parking would be better docking. U.S. startup Charge just gained permission to install scooter charging docks in Paris. | Les Echos

  • And Estonian startup Bikeep unveiled a public parking dock, which would be accessible for all scooters, regardless of brand or operator. | Emerging Europe

  • Speaking of decluttering the sidewalks, Skip unveiled a tip-over detection feature that alerts the company when its scooters have been knocked down. This publicly available dataset offers the most comprehensive picture yet of the tip-over problem’s extent. “Of all tip-over alerts we received, 11% were placed upright within 5 minutes, 39% within 30 minutes, 53% within an hour, and 74% within 3 hours.” | Skip

  • Chinese emoped maker Doinnext will begin retailing in Europe next year. | Electrek

  • Joining Uber, Helbiz has won a permit to operate dockless ebikes in Rome. The startup plans to deploy up to 2,500 of the devices in the Italian capital by the end of 2019. | Intelligent Transport

  • One month after debuting, ebikes are almost twice as popular as conventional pedal models among users of Glasgow’s bike-share system. | Scotsman

  • Whill is bringing autonomous wheelchairs to North American airports. | TechCrunch

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  • Lime is being booted out of Auckland in favor of four other scooter operators, Jump, Beam, Neuron, and Flamingo. | Newshub

  • In Paris—where micromobility providers are doing everything they can to get on regulators’ good sides ahead of a competitive permit process—Jump is partnering with Veolia to recycle more than 90 percent of the scrap from its decommissioned bikes and scooters. | Les Echos

  • Revel has hired the lobbying firm California Strategies, prompting speculation that the on-demand emoped provider has its sights set on the Golden State next. | San Diego Reader

  • Projections show that shared and private micromobility could account for up to 30 percent of all trips in Munich by 2030. | McKinsey

  • Spanish automaker SEAT has collaborated on a kick scooter with Segway and an electric moped with Silence. | Sifted

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  • Bulgaria is emerging as the ebike-manufacturing capital of Europe. The country’s export numbers grew 240 percent in 2018 before more than doubling in the first half of this year. | Bike Europe

  • New York State’s electric scooter legalization bill is being held up by its governor. | WSJ

  • After a delay this summer, Brussels bike-sharing program Villo has launched its ebike subscription service, eVillo. | Brussels Times

  • With Bosch quitting the moped-sharing game in Europe, its rival Emmy is doubling its fleet in Berlin and expanding in other cities as well. | Electrive

  • Norway has the safest roads for cycling. | Forbes


Stay Connected

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Time to Put Scooter Emissions in Perspective

This week, mini cars are going the way of the dodo, Bosch gives up the moped game, and— Cybertruck notwithstanding—Tesla makes news in micromobility, but first…

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Photo: Jessica Christian / The Chronicle 2018

With any IoT project, trade-offs must be made when selecting how to connect your device. Factors to consider include latency, battery life, coverage, mobility, and throughput. From a mobility perspective, cellular may seem like the clear winner—however, not all cellular technologies are designed for devices that move around frequently.

In this ebook, Twilio compares wide area networks (WANs), including high-performance cellular and Low-Power Wide-Area Networks (LPWAN) alternatives, to help you choose the right connectivity for your specific needs. 

Click here to download the ebook.


✍️ :: Putting Scooter Emissions in Perspective

By Oliver Bruce

As a matter of physics, it’s a no-brainer that scooters are better for the environment than cars.

It takes less energy to transport a 100-kilogram passenger using a 20-kilogram vehicle with a 90% efficient electric powertrain than it does to accomplish the same task using a 2,000-kilogram vehicle with a 30% efficient internal combustion powertrain. When you replace a car trip with a scooter trip, you’re pushing 17 times less weight three times more efficiently.

But that isn't the full story.

Many of the scooters that people ride are shared, like those offered by Lime, Bird, Uber, and Lyft. When you account for everything that goes into producing and operating a shared scooter, from manufacturing to shipping to charging to disposal, its carbon footprint grows.

A recent life-cycle assessment from North Carolina State University (NCSU) attempted to calculate the actual size of that carbon footprint.

The study yielded good, if not exactly spectacular, news for micromobility advocates. It concluded that, on a per-mile basis, shared scooters produce about half as many grams of greenhouse gas as cars, but more than a full-ridership bus, biking, or walking. 

Let’s start by stating the obvious: A vehicle that weighs a hundredth as much as an automobile should not be producing half the amount of pollution. Still the clear takeaway from the study is that scooters beat cars on CO2 no matter which way you cut it. That means these two-wheeled devices are an improvement to the transportation system—albeit an improvement with lots of room for improvement. 

Yet if you read any of the media coverage surrounding the NCSU report, this would probably not be the conclusion you came away with.

Click here to read Oliver’s full article on why so many people got the scooter emissions news cycle wrong.


🎥 :: The First to 100 Million Rides

This week our featured video is Lime president Joe Kraus’s keynote address from Micromobility Europe.

In this 20-minute clip, Kraus shares three cautionary tales that propelled Lime to 100 million rides in two years.

  1. Be practical, unlike hoverboards

  2. Be sustainable, unlike cars

  3. Be accessible, unlike the original Segway

Watch the video here.

Other new videos this week include presentations by leaders from SAE International, Tortoise, Uber, and more. Check them out on our YouTube channel.

We will be releasing videos of presentations from our last conference all week. Follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter to get alerts when new ones are published.


🎙️ :: The Data Play of Micromobility

In the latest episode of the podcast, Oliver Bruce talks to William Henderson, CEO of Ride Report, about micromobility data, MaaS systems, MDS, and the ongoing spat between Uber and LADOT over privacy.

“The reasons L.A. wants that control are really good, noble reasons...however, when it comes to privacy, it’s a deeply flawed model,” William Henderson ⁦

Listen here.


💸 :: So About Black Friday…

Early Bird registrations for Micromobility America (Richmond, CA | April 22 & 23, 2020) are filling up fast, but there are still tickets available.

To celebrate the season of giving, we are running a special deal on Early Bird tickets from Black Friday (November 29) until Cyber Monday (December 2).

Here’s what to expect over the long weekend:

  • Individual Early Bird tickets will be an extra 15% off.

  • Group bundles of 5 tickets or more will be available for $195 each.

Subscribe to our free newsletter to get a reminder when the sale starts. These are deep savings of 75-80% off the General Admission price. You don’t want to miss out on this deal.

Learn more about Micromobility America—our largest conference yet—here.


What You Need to Know This Week

  • Leading off, Circ is restructuring. According to some reports, the Berlin-based scooter rental company is cutting headcount by almost 10%. CEO Lukasz Gadowski says seasonality, “operational learnings,” and the switch to swappable batteries, which require less personnel to service, are to blame. (Unlike some of its competitors, Circ does not use independent contractors to charge its vehicles.) The company claims that it has delivered 10 million rides and its unit economics are positive in about a third of the countries it serves. | TechCrunch

  • Relatedly, the German government wants to make swappable batteries mandatory for scooter operators in an effort to reduce the amount of fuel that is used by vans picking up and dropping off vehicles for charging. | DGAP

  • In Tempe, Arizona, real estate developer Culdesac has broken ground on the country’s first car-free community to be built from scratch | Curbed

  • From the Fiat 500 to the Ford Ka, miniature city cars are going extinct as automakers focus on heavier vehicles with wider profit margins. | Les Echos

  • Superpedestrian has raised $20 million to roll out its fleet scooter in North America, Asia, and Europe. The MIT-born micromobility startup claims that its combination hardware/software solution, which took several years to develop, lasts 5-10x longer and is less expensive to operate than the industry standard. | VentureBeat

    • Watch: Here is a short video of Superpedestrian CEO Assaf Biderman at Micromobility Europe explaining how his technology can prevent breakdowns and keep fleet scooters alive longer.

  • Chinese emoped manufacturer Niu’s Q3 sales were up almost 25% compared to last year. This is despite the fact that Niu had to raise its retail prices in the U.S. due to tariffs imposed by the Trump administration. | Asia One

  • Blue Duck did not win a permit to continue renting scooters in its hometown of San Antonio. The company says it is focused on expanding to smaller cities as well as college and corporate campuses across the southeastern U.S. | Rivard Report

  • Indian micromobility startup Yulu has raised $8 million in a Series A round through a strategic partnership with Bajaj Auto. Yulu, which operates sit-down electric vehicles in Bengaluru, New Delhi, and Mumbai, will maintain its existing partnership with Uber as well. | TechCrunch

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  • Voi discovered a breach in its data security system that enabled someone to gain access to its user receipts. | Voi

  • Bosch is folding its emoped sharing scheme, Coup, citing high costs and heavy competition. The company will remove its 6,000 vehicles from the four cities in which it operates, Berlin, Paris, Madrid, and Tübingen, next month. | TechCrunch

  • Pon Holdings, a Dutch transportation conglomerate that distributes several major auto brands, has acquired electric cargo bike maker Urban Arrow. | Pon Holdings

  • U.S. emoped provider Ojo has acquired the scooter and bike rental service Gotcha in a $12 million deal. The newly merged entity plans to pump a total of 25,000 shared devices into 80 markets next year. Both companies claim they already have positive unit economics. | The Verge

  • Lime plans to launch in Cape Town by early 2020. Once it does, the California-based company will be active on every continent except Antarctica. It will also be the first major micromobility provider to deploy kick scooters in Africa. | Electrek

  • On that note, as Lime expands to new regions, the company is contracting local marketing agencies to customize its messaging strategy. | Digiday

  • Following in the footsteps of Shared in Oregon, Bird has launched a program that offers free rides to people who take a selfie wearing a helmet. | Mashable

  • Bird also unveiled Birdie, a non-electric, three-wheeler for kids. | Engadget

  • Lyft has failed to meet its own deadline for returning docked ebikes to New York City. The ride-hailing company pulled pedelec service from its Citi Bike system in April due to a braking malfunction, claiming at the time that the problem would be resolved by autumn. Now it says New Yorkers shouldn’t expect to see their electric fleet again until winter. | Gothamist

  • Luxembourg has officially become the first country to make all public transit free. | Archdaily

  • Similar to Jump earlier this year, Voi has started a low-income ride-sharing program in Paris. | Clubic

  • Update from last week’s newsletter: Bird has apparently applied for, but not yet received, a patent for the remote control use of an on-demand electric vehicle. | Patent Images

  • SAE International, the engineering association that helped establish standards for self-driving cars and, before that, regular cars, has released its first-ever classification system for “powered micromobility vehicles.” | SAE International

What's in a name.
  • After nearly 10 years, Denver’s bike-sharing program, B-cycle, will shut down at the end of January due to high costs, falling ridership, and lack of funding. The city has no immediate replacement lined up, but officials plan to offer exclusive bike and scooter contracts to one or more operators by next summer. | Streetsblog

  • How much could NYC charge for one of its free parking spots? Somewhere $6,000 and $8,500 a year, depending on how you look at it. | Bloomberg

  • Revel got the go-ahead to deploy 750 shared electric mopeds in Miami. | Miami Today

  • Driven by micromobility demand, IoT provider Comodule has opened a factory in its native Estonia that will allow it to produce up to 20,000 telematics devices a month. | Bike Europe

  • No, we are not going to cover the three-ton Cybertruck in the Micromobility Newsletter. But Elon Musk did make one piece of LEV news last week when he launched Cyberquad, an electric ATV that is made to pair with Tesla’s mammoth pickup. Some observers have noticed that the quad appears to have been built on a Yamaha Raptor platform with a few modifications, a fact that Musk neglected to mention during the announcement. | The Drive


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Want more up-to-the-minute news and announcements? Be sure to subscribe to the newsletter and check out our website.

mMeetup: The Long Road to Self-Driving Cars

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