Some Interesting eScooter Bits

Scooter companies ride high on hope and hype

First bit:

Investors poured $3.5 billion into scooter- and bike-rental startups globally for the first half of 2018, according to data firm CB Insights, even though basic issues such as how cities will regulate the motorized two-wheelers remain unresolved.

Boldfaced emphasis added by me.

I think bikes are lumped in there because Lime and Ofo also offer bikes. But the real lettuce is going into eScooter rentals.

Second bit:

New competitors are still lining up. Razor, a longtime scooter-maker, is launching an app-based service this summer. Uscooter, a Los Angeles-based firm that calls itself “the Ferrari of scooters,” is rolling out an app of its own.

That paragraph makes no damn sense. Razor has nothing worthwhile in terms of eScooters. Uscooter (aka E-TWOW) is hardly a “Ferrari.” It’s a damn tank.

Third bit:

Segway-Ninebot has been way out ahead in supplying Bird and Lime, another well-funded bike-and-scooter outfit. But that is breeding manufacturing rivals as the company struggles to keep up.

A spokeswoman for Lime said it can “take longer than we expected” to get scooters from Segway-Ninebot and Lime is “always looking to find new suppliers.” Bird’s CEO, Travis VanderZanden, has publicly lamented a scooter supply shortage.

Spin has an agreement with Segway-Ninebot for scooters that will meet demand through the end of the year, but Spin said it is looking to design and build its own scooters.

Boldfaced emphasis added by me.

Ninebot/Segway is looking to raise $200M. I don’t understand why they have to do that in the public markets. With all the cash Lime and Bird have, Ninebot/Segway could arrange financing through them.

As for an eScooter “shortage,” I’ll repeat this until it sinks into people: Xiaomi, Ninebot/Segway, and other eScooter makers will raise their prices and target fleet markets. They’ll stop selling to individuals. The only way to get an eScooter in a year or two will be a refurbed rental previously used by Bird, Lime, or another company. The Next Big Thing might be eScooter refurb or recycle companies.

Fifth bit:

Battery maker CLEVR Mobility is designing e-bikes and e-scooters to have batteries that can be swapped out, giving scooter-rental services an alternative to a workforce of contractors that collects and charges scooters nightly.

Boldfaced emphasis added by me.

That’s interesting, but a hell of an engineering problem. eScooter batteries are larger than the ones used by eSkateboards. Not only is there the matter of battery size, there’s weight too. The battery has to be placed where it can provide the most stability. While it’s possible to mimic some eSkateboard designs and have a lid on top of the deck, the logistics of swapping out batteries can get hairy. Plus, there’s the real risk of battery theft.

Sixth bit:

Complaints about Segway-Ninebot’s scooter quality have also encouraged competition. Dave Kammeyer, a Silicon Valley software developer, said he bought a Segway-Ninebot scooter similar to what Bird offers after trying out a rental.

“It’s definitely not built to the standard of what I’d consider a durable vehicle,” he said. He estimates his scooter will last for up to 300 miles (480 km) “if I’m lucky. That said, I love riding it, and it was only $300.

Boldfaced emphasis added by me.

Even though I’ve yet to encounter that eScooter in person, I find his estimate hard to believe. Kurt V. put over 700 miles on a carbon fiber eScooter, something that’s not built to last. Doug Hnut has over 600 miles on a Xiaomi M365. Dmitry A put over 2,000 miles on an E-TWOW clone. However, we’ve already seen a Ninebot/Segway model’s deck break. Durability also depends on rider weight and surfaces traversed. Plus, some people are just dicks and try to do stunts. Grow up. One final point: No eScooter rentals are encountering the terrain that Anna in Russia does daily!

Previously here:

Chronological List Of Electric Scooter Posts
eScooters category

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