The Rise of Scooter Sharing
The use of scooters within cities are growing in popularity, especially since majority of them are electric
Here’s a thought for you — scooter sharing has been around since 2012, but it was only in the last two years where a wave of scooter sharing services emerged (1). There are now over 8,000 shared scooters on the road globally (1), with over 4,000 running on the INVERS Shared Mobility OS. The number of shared scooters are going to increase as this way of getting around becomes more widely adopted and operators begin expanding to both competitive and untapped markets.
Scooters are an enticing option in the shared mobility world; they’re compact, two-wheeled and easy to use. These characteristics make scooters attractive because they address numerous concerns:
Minimizes Carbon Footprint
Globally, 95% of shared scooters are electric (1). This is a huge advantage over carsharing services that mainly manage a fleet of combustion-run vehicles. Given scooters’ compact size and speed suitable for intra-city trips, electric scooters make sense. The typical operational obstacles of running an all-electric fleet are minimal with scooter sharing — trips on a scooter are typically shorter in duration and length than a vehicle, so there is less worry about the scooter running out of power. The battery packs are also smaller, making it faster to charge and easier to swap out. As a result, operators are less reliant on the city’s charging infrastructure, or lack thereof.
In addition, we are currently experiencing an electric revolution. The dependence on non-renewable resources such as oil is decreasing, and electricity-run transportation options are steadily emerging. While we are a few years away from widespread adoption of electric vehicles, scooter sharing services let users get around while minimizing their carbon footprint. Being green is fun, especially when you’re on a scooter.
As with other shared mobility options like carsharing, scooter sharing contributes to congestion reduction efforts. Having access to a scooter encourages multi-modal trips, less reliance on a personal vehicle, and greater awareness on an individual’s contribution to congestion. Being part of a scooter sharing service gives individuals the opportunity to weigh the cost and benefit of various transportation alternatives and determine which option meets their trip needs the best.
Ease of Parking
Compared to a standard motor vehicle, scooters take up a fraction of the space. This makes them a great option in places where parking is limited or expensive. In fact, only 5% of scooter shares are station-based and require on-street parking (1). The other scooter shares are free floating, meaning the scooters can be parked almost anywhere, as long as it is not obtrusive to vehicles or pedestrians. The free floating concept provides another level of convenience for scooter sharing users who now have the flexibility of being closer to their first and last mile destination.
Without the need to negotiate parking with city officials, free floating scooter sharing services remove one of the biggest barriers to entering a new market. The headaches that come with securing designated parking spaces are avoided, making it a win in terms of lower startup costs and no recurring fees or tickets to worry about. Nonetheless, as a new business entering the city, we recommend that new operators discuss any new sharing scheme with city officials.
Scooters are less costly to obtain, making the upfront cost more affordable and a less risky business endeavor. One important startup cost to keep in mind, though, is the team and technology behind the operations. If the team is knowledgeable and the technology easy to install, a scooter sharing operation becomes much more viable. Bonus: if the technology is installed at the supplier level, getting ready for launch becomes even easier.
The ongoing costs of running a scooter share is assessable: the maintenance, part replacement, and depreciation of the asset is low, making owning a large fleet of scooters manageable. In addition, the pricing structure members pay in a scooter sharing service is similar to the rates of a carsharing, meaning operators will enjoy a healthier profit margin.
Given these characteristics of scooter sharing services, it isn’t surprising that they have thrived in cities that have already adopted carsharing services as well. Over 40% of the shared scooters on the road can be found in Berlin and Paris (1). In these cities, one-way carsharing has been around since 2011 and continues to maintain steady usage (2,3). What makes these sharing schemes successful is likely similar between the two services and two cities — the city is dense, public transportation is accessible, and owning a vehicle is not preferred.
Nonetheless, we’ve seen scooter sharing thrive outside of Europe as well, with a growing presence in USA, Mexico, and Taiwan (1). If we compare scooter sharing and carsharing again, Europe led the growth of carsharing services years before it entered North America. Countries like Germany and France are great places to test out different business models, pricing schemes, and other aspects of a shared mobility service. As mentioned before, the density and multi-modal focus are great testing grounds to identify how shared mobility can serve other markets as well.
Now that scooter sharing is beginning to mature in certain markets, it is time for other cities to embrace this new form of shared mobility as well. In Southern Europe, private scooter use is commonplace, making it attractive as an untapped market, as people are already accepting of scooters and know how to use them. The obstacle to overcome here would be similar to bringing carsharing to a car-dependent city: how to convince people of the benefits of sharing over owning.
Meanwhile, scooter sharing in Asia may seem like a faraway dream, but the sharing economy continues to grow in those markets. From competitive bikesharing schemes to the birth of megacities in China, there is potential for scooter sharing to thrive, especially for the benefit of congestion reduction. Even though people consider scooters an asset to own and not share, there are numerous benefits to both cities and individuals to consider scooter sharing.
In North America, cities are not as dense compared to Europe and Asia, and as a result there are less cities with carshares. However, density may not need to be as important a factor given the lower start-up costs enjoyed with a scooter sharing operation. There will always be skeptics on whether or not scooter sharing will work, but if carsharing is any indication, there is great potential with this two-wheeled form of shared mobility.
Scooter Sharing in Action
With that said, there will still be risks to launching a scooter sharing service in a new, untapped market. The risk is somewhat minimized from the more affordable cost of scooters, but there are other concerns to consider as well.
There are one- and two-person scooters available in the market, both of which can be found in existing scooter sharing services. Those who have implemented two-person scooters found more trips than expected with two people riding the scooter. This surprised some operators who had originally only equipped the scooter with one helmet! Soon-to-be operators therefore need to understand their market and determine what the demand for shared rides would be.
Scooters are also open air, making the passenger vulnerable to Mother Nature. As a result, scooter sharing is a slightly seasonal business, with peak utilization happening in the warmer months (1). However, this does not mean that scooter sharing only works in places closer to the Southern Hemisphere.
Taking Germany as an example, they experience mild winters but also have around 30% of the shared scooters in their market (1). Emmy, the largest player in Germany, still runs its operation during the winter and only closes when the streets are covered in snow, when it is unsafe for their members to travel on a scooter.
When it gets colder people may also be less interested in going for lunch breaks across town, but taking a scooter for the average 3 km is more attractive than walking. With the free floating concept, scooters also have the potential of bringing individuals closer to their destination, as parking is easier to come by.
Ultimately, scooter sharing is a growing part of the shared mobility pie. When evaluating potential transportation options, individuals look for cost-efficient, convenient options. Whether that trip is with one form of mobility or is multi-modal depends on where and when the trip takes place. Scooter sharing has a strong use case for intra-urban mobility and quickly getting around the city. The adoption of scooter sharing has begun to take off, and we’re looking forward to supporting the growth of this new shared mobility service.
If you would like to be a part of the growing world of shared mobility and launch the next scooter sharing service, please contact us and we can help you launch your project!