China is owning micromobility

Plus, Lime is largely profitable, IKEA is renting cargo bikes, and delivery apps are building 15-minute cities in reverse.

Hello and welcome to the Micromobility Newsletter, a weekly missive about mobility, mostly mobility in cities by small electric vehicles like bikes and scooters. The reason you’re reading this email is that you signed up on our website or came to one of our webinars or events.

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What you need to know this week

  • China is not only the engine fueling the global micromobility boom, it is the epicenter of growth. The country’s revenue from bicycle exports hit $1.1B in Q3, eclipsing the $1B mark for the first time since 1995. And with annual domestic sales of more than 30 million units in recent years, the number of electric bicycles in China has reached around 300 million, or about one for every five people.

  • What happens when your motorbike goes missing in China? From a new report on the country’s big data analytics: “Weifang’s ‘mobile guardian’ and ‘divine eye’ systems can automatically identify any vehicle by its license-plate number or other characteristics within seconds and track its movement. Police used these systems to investigate 100% of motorbike theft reports and returned all bikes to their owners.” (h/t Reilly Brennan)

  • Britain will ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars in 2030, five years earlier than originally planned.

  • Best Buy is partnering with Instacart for same-day delivery across the US, joining several other major retailers. As shipping gets faster, delivery apps like Instacart are getting closer to reverse engineering a direct-to-doorstep version of the 15-minute city that urbanists dream of.

  • Bike riding in US cities is up 21% compared to 2019.

  • … but bike thefts are rising too. From March to September, nearly 70% more bikes were reported stolen than last year, per data from Bike Index.

  • Lyft grossed $25M in revenue from bikes and scooters in Q3.

  • Subscription micromobility is exploding, with numerous startups now leasing bikes and scooters in pursuit of all-important recurring revenue. On an exclusive webinar next week, Oliver Bruce interviews Richard Burger, founder of Swapfiets, about whether the HaaS model can trump sharing and owning. Sign up to unlock access.

  • Telkomsel, Indonesia’s biggest telecom network, has invested $150M in moped-hailing startup Gojek.

  • Electric scooters and bicycles are officially legal in New York City.

  • Lime was largely profitable last quarter and is on pace to be full-year profitable in 2021, excluding EBIT. Excitingly, the company also plans to add new modes next year, although it did not say what kind. A moped would be the logical next step, allowing Lime users to take longer trips, but you can ask CEO Wayne Ting about it yourself at Micromobility World on January 27th.

  • In other Lime news, its Gen4 scooter has launched in Paris. Based on Jump engineering, the vehicle boasts sidewalk detection capabilities, a swappable battery, and new tap-and-ride technology.

  • Driven by ebike sales, Halfords, the UK’s biggest cycling retailer, doubled its profits in the first half of 2020.

  • Abu Dhabi-based scooter startup Fenix raised $3.8M in a seed round led by Maniv.

  • Bike-share pioneer Mobike declared insolvency in Germany.

  • Electric moped maker Niu’s revenue grew 37% in Q3, year-over-year, pushing its share price to fivefold increase since March. China accounts for 86% of the firm’s revenue.

  • Voi is partnering with Onfido, a provider of AI-powered identity verification technology, to confirm new riders in the UK.

  • SAE is creating a committee for micromobility battery standards led by the CTO of Swiftmile.

  • A new bill in Washington, DC would make it easier for users of electric bikes and scooters who are hit by cars to collect damages, treating them similarly to pedestrians.

  • Currently there are about 750 dockless micromobility systems in Europe, more than half of them scooter-based.


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