The success of the electric scooter is ever-increasingly tangible, especially after the amendments to the Italian highway code that now allows their use. But what is the situation in other Countries?
While in Italy their diffusion only began a few months ago, in other Countries the e-scooters are already a part of daily life. They represent a simple, zero-emission alternative when taking short journeys, or are used in combination with personal cars or public transport to cover the so-called last-mile or to enter restricted areas in the city centre.
The growth of the sharing economy is also helping rapidly increasing the number of these two-wheeled vehicles on the roads: at the end of last year, for example, in France there were already 250,000 e-scooters circulating.
It is a trend which is also getting the attention of some world-famous personalities: recent entries to this market include Bolt Mobility, founded by the world’s fastest man, Usain Bolt, and Tier Mobility, whose shareholders include Formula 1 champion Nico Rosberg. More akin to a child’s toy rather than means of transport for adults, these electric scooters have the potential to solve some of the problems of congested cities around the world.
How it works
E-Scooter sharing is similar to free floating car sharing – in other words with collection and drop-off at locations which are not fixed, rather wherever is most convenient for the user – just like most car sharing services. With an app and GPS users can generally locate the closest e-scooter, scan the QR code and then unlock it. To start “scooting” the user is required to kick-off and then, the electric motor takes over. In most cases, acceleration is achieved by operating a small throttle lever on the handlebar with your thumb.
At the end of the ride, payment is taken automatically, charged directly to the user’s credit card via the app. The average costs are less than a bus or subway ticket – but definitely a lot more fun.
Range & speed
The e-scooters maximum range is on average 20 kilometres, with a maximum speed of around 20km/h in most cases. A helmet is not required, but recommended. In the case of sharing services, the recharge is performed overnight, when the vehicles are not available for hire. Some operators let private people take on this role, in return for a small consideration.
Where are they in operation? Here is an overview of the use of e-scooters around the world.
Here, over 30 cities in more than 20 States have e-scooters currently roaming their streets. Like the skateboard or dune buggy, everything began in California, where attention to new technologies is extremely high and the climate allows their use year-round. There are a huge number of sharing services active in the Golden State alone.
The national deployment of e-scooters hasn’t been without controversy though. In some cities regulators are for example capping the number of scooters. In areas where the scooters are not allowed, geofencing prevents their operation. Finally, people can report improper use of scooters or poorly parked scooters and operators have a short period in which to pick them up or face their vehicles being impounded.
Paris was one of the first European cities to adopt e-scooters, referred to as “trottinettes” in France. Private sales of e-scooters have boomed, with more than 200,000 units registered in 2018, leading the city government to prohibit their use and parking on pavements.
After a pilot phase, the German Government has decided to allow e-scooters to circulate on the roads and cycleways – but not on the pavements. The first e-scooter rental companies have already started operating in Berlin. The power is limited to 500 Watts, and the scooters cannot exceed a speed limit of 20 km/h. The minimum age to “drive” e-scooters is 14. Helmets are recommended but not mandatory. Lights are compulsory.
Belgium and Austria
Brussels already has six different sharing operators, for which strict regulations have been in force since February 1.
There are also five e-scooter providers in Vienna, operating with a free floating modality. The e-scooters are limited to a geofenced area: if they go out of the zone, the vehicle makes a warning noise until the user returns inside it.
After a number of incidents, a big sharing operator temporarily removed their scooters from the streets pending a further investigation, but this hasn’t stopped the “e-Trottis”, as they are known in Switzerland, from expanding both in terms of private buyers and other sharing operators. These can be found in their highest concentration both in Basel and in Zurich.
The UK is preparing for an e-scooter boom. A test phase by one operator is currently taking place at London’s Olympic Park to evaluate the potential of a wider roll-out. At the moment e-scooters are only allowed to be ridden on private land.
Spain and Portugal
Both in Madrid and in Malaga, e-scooter sharing is already widespread. SEAT has signed a strategic alliance with the start-up UFO, thanks to which 530 units of the SEAT eXS Kickscooter powered by Segway will be made available to residents of Madrid. The Spanish capital does not allow electric scooters in pedestrian areas or on roads where the speed limit is above 50 km/h.
In Portugal, on the other hand, e-scooters arrived last year thanks to a Californian company that introduced just under 500 scooters to the capital, Lisbon. Since then, the sector has seen strong growth, although the hilly and often cobbled city streets aren’t without their hazards.
Poland and Sweden
Warsaw and Wroclaw were the first Polish cities to offer sharing services, but things are opening up here, too.
Sweden is at the forefront of the modern mobility solutions. Here, it is not US providers who set the tone, but the local company VOI. The operator of e-scooter sharing services currently offers scooters in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö, as well as in other European cities.
Ideal weather conditions and a flat topography make e-scooters a viable day-to-day alternative to public transport for Israelis. This is particularly true on the Sabbath, the Jewish day of rest, when public transport does not operate.
Source: Volkswagen AG