With the record-breaking investments, launches, and capital that the electric vehicle market witnessed in 2021, it is only fair to assume that we are going to see a meteoric rise in the electric ride-sharing space in 2022. But is that the case? Or are we going to witness a downfall because of unsustainable market practices?
The opinions on the electric ride-share topic are varied and seem to be extremely polarizing. Different people seem to have different opinions. Everyone is eagerly waiting to see what the next big trend in the urban transport revolution is going to be.
What does the current stage of electric scooter sharing tell us?
Bird and Lime were the first electric scooter ride-sharing startups to invade American cities. Fleets of gleaming, emission-free electric scooters were launched into metropolitan areas, without consulting with the officials. Many people were taken aback by this unexpected incursion. Inexperienced riders caused havoc with no defined standards of conduct, sparking uproar. People were run over in certain cases resulting in injuries. The debate about scooter ride-share swiftly shifted from intriguing to worrisome. Seattle, West Hollywood, San Francisco, and others placed bans on electric scooter companies.
In November 2018, Ford Motor Company announced its acquisition of Spin, a bike, and scooter-sharing startup for $100 million as part of its mobility subsidiary, FordX. Ford purchased Autonomic and TransLoc earlier this year, showing that they recognize change is afoot in the realm of personal mobility and intend to be a part of it. Lime has also attracted the interest of other major competitors in the ride-sharing industry; both Uber and Lyft have made significant investments in the company. It's clear that urban commuting methods are changing, and electric scooters may be at the forefront of that change.
Is it possible to succeed with the present business model?
At first look, it may look like electric scooter ride-sharing businesses became successful by dumping a lot of low-cost electric scooters on public streets for their consumers. But that’s not true. The bird was the first financial unicorn to emerge from this new sector in 2018, followed by Lime, with Bird earning the gleaming unicorn status in a record-breaking span of less than a year. The latest companies in the ride-sharing industry have great hopes and buzz as well, but do these firms have the necessary business strategy for long-term success? Some issues that may obstruct sustaining a consistent profit margin expansion include:
- Maintenance cost of the scooters.
- Affordability for users after added taxes and charges.
- A lot of emerging companies competing in the same ballpark.
- Riders may just purchase a scooter than use ride services.
- Apart from these challenges, new companies also face tough competition from the existing biggies like Bird and Lime.
A Ray Of Hope
Ride-sharing businesses are ecstatic about the number of trips done on their scooters, and it's easy to see why: the numbers have skyrocketed. Bird stated that its scooters have taken over ten million journeys in their first year of operation. Other e-scooter ridesharing services also claim to have completed millions of trips. This newest model of transportation is certainly being used and paid for. Despite several web sources exposing the sinister world of e-scooters and their users, the general public's perception of the services is overwhelmingly positive.
Contrary to popular belief, it’s not only the tech-bros who are embracing the electric scooter rides. The types of users are much more varied. Women are embracing electric scooters. A recent study shows that they prefer e-scooter rides to another prevalent ridesharing alternative, bicycles. The reasons behind this are unknown, but according to Regina Clewlow's analysis, "electric scooters may enjoy more acceptance and adoption among women.
E-scooters Are Here To Stay
Electric scooters are at the vanguard of the rising micro-mobility business, which is increasing in response to traffic congestion, air pollution, and parking issues in densely populated metropolitan areas. The framework that today's e-scooter startups are laying may pave the path for future micro-mobility solutions. The success of electric scooter unicorns in 2022 will most likely be determined by a collaborative effort between the companies and city governments due to the potential benefits electric scooters can provide environmentally.
Every day, the number of nations and towns embracing and launching e-scooters is growing. As a result, there is healthy rivalry among IT businesses to provide various ride-sharing alternatives. There’s no doubt that the e-scooters are here to stay.
Few items in the world have ever gone from being a child's toy to becoming a requirement for adults. People are screaming for new modes of transportation, and local governments have been reluctant in their reaction. It will be fascinating to watch if the scooter-sharing economy has the legs to expand beyond a millennial craze.
If nothing else, it's a commendable endeavor to make inaccessible cities more navigable and to relieve some of the stress and congestion that comes with city living. Whatever happens, a weekend ride around the neighborhood with the wind in your hair and a set of battery-powered wheels under your feet will never go out of style.
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