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…

Image result for scooter next to car

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

  • 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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