What Does the Future Hold for Electric Scooters?
Electric scooters are becoming more and more popular in urban areas because they offer incredible mobility without actually owning a car. But, is this popularity just a fad, or is it going to become a mainstay? Check out our predictions of what the future holds for e-scooters here!
Keyword(s): electric scooters
Driverless cars, air taxis, and hoverboards...oh my!
We all watched in anticipation as Marty McFly, looking cool and heroic as ever, glided around town on his floating hoverboard. Little did we know, Back to The Future's premonition of transportation trends wasn't that far off.
The future of public transportation is changing, and IT'S ELECTRIC!
By the year 2024, the global market estimates to reach $22 billion in electronic scooter transportation.
So, what does the future entail for these electric scooters?
Two Wheels Are Better Than None (Or Four)
Big gurus like Google, Uber, Lyft, and Ford Motors all seem to agree. Which is why they are investing in the electronic two-wheeler industry. Two-wheel electric scooter models continue to get sleeker and lighter, making it easy to kickstart and go.
So what specs can you expect from an e-scooter? Models vary by manufacturer but use an electric-assist throttle to get moving. 15MPH is the average top speed, and the scooter will take you about 15 miles before needing a recharge.
As electric scooter companies continue to adapt, battery life will only get better. Research is underway for how to extend the length and distance of scooter trips.
The designs are compact, and some include Bluetooth features and LED headlights for nighttime rides. They come in a variety of cool colors, ranging from classic black to lime green.
The Evolution of the Electric Scooter
E-scooters are already appealing to city dwellers. As they offer a quick and efficient way to get to your nearby destination. They let you save on gas, or forgo owning a vehicle altogether.
No more waiting for a taxi or being subject to Uber's surge prices during rush hour. Say goodbye to getting stuck in traffic or an underground subway tunnel.
Electric transportation has already made quite an impact in other countries. In 2014, China counted 20.5 million registered electric 2-wheelers.
For these reasons, e-scooters are taking major cities by storm. Some people are raising their eyebrows at the thought of a fleet of scooters zooming up and down city streets and sidewalks. Yet, e-scooter rental companies already have a plan and it involves expanding bike lanes.
Competition is churning among e-scooter rental companies, such as BIRD, Limebike, Spin, Waybots, and Goat. They continue to pave the way for e-scooter public transportation and infrastructure. Demand is high, which is why BIRD is planning to expand to over 50 markets this year.
Weighing the Costs and Options
When compared to non-electric transportation, scooters are a low-maintenance and cost-effective alternative. They don't need filters, spark plugs, or oil to run. This makes their operational and mechanical costs much lower.
The compact size of the scooters takes up less space, with many models having a folding option. Which eliminates the need to build more parking lots and garages in city centers.
The same can be said about the increasing popularity of hoverboards. New models even allow riders to take their wheels off the streets, for an off-road experience. Or you can always turn your hover into a go-kart and have races with your friends.
In addition to conserving fuel costs, electric scooters cut down on gas emissions. An average vehicle driver emits 4.6 metric tons of annual gas emissions. So e-scooters could very well pave the way towards the future of clean energy.
Operating a scooter also costs much less than other forms of public transportation. This makes it perfect for short trips to the office, a local bar, or restaurant.
Ride-Share, If You Dare
Big yellow taxis and Uber should watch their backs. The future of e-scooters is here, and it's all about renting and ride sharing. With new technology and GPS sensors, city living and commuting got easier.
Ride-sharing transportation gets controlled by an app. Making it quick and convenient to pick up, pay and park your ride.
The app also helps you find pick up and dropoff locations of available scooters near you. It unlocks your ride, and you return it when you're done.
No need to find a nearby docking station to park the scooter. When renting electric scooters, you can park them and leave them for the next rider. This grab and go dockless model also eliminates the need to pay for parking.
Ride-sharing makes sense from a community perspective. Yet, there are still some maintenance, distribution, and storage questions.
To keep scooters off the streets during non-business hours, rental companies are paying people to charge scooters in their homes overnight. This makes it the scooter-sitters responsibility to place them on the sidewalk for morning commuters.
While this idea works, for now, it doesn't seem to be a permanent solution as the scooter inventory will continue to grow.
The Cure for City Congestion
Austin, San Fran, San Diego, Seattle, and Washington D.C. are a few cities that have dabbled in scooter sharing. Portland makes plans to unveil a trial program later this year. While they are still working out the kinks, college kids and commuters are completely on board.
Shareable scooters are cost-effective and convenient for city commuters. Scoot to work, or around your college campus, without having to go underground or hail a taxi. Rides run about $1 per 30 minutes or $10 per hour.
There's been some pushback about commuting this way with heavy books and laptops, but isn't that what backpacks are for? After all, work attire is better suited for a scooter than a bike as it won't wrinkle your fresh-pressed pants or skirt.
City residents seem to agree. As there are 60,000 riders (and counting) in San Fransisco and 50,000 in Santa Monica. Scooter-rental company, Spin, has reported a 61% increase in day to day scooter rides.
A Better Way to Travel
The idea appeals to vacationers as much as it does locals. Visitors can catch a ride, without having to navigate complex subway systems or communicate with cab drivers who don't speak their language. No more waiting in line for the city bus, only to find that it's already full of passengers.
Traveling by scooter is a chance to see the sights of the city, rather than getting enclosed underground. It's an opportunity to soak up some culture, as you can stop and pull over anytime you wish. This freedom of changing your route isn't available with other forms of transportation such as Uber, trains or subways.
Electric scooters aren't only for commuters. Restaurants and shops can take full advantage of them for customer delivery services. They are quicker than bikes and will reduce food delivery times, allowing for more business.
Millenials on the Move
This grab and go method is appealing to people of all ages but seems as though it's made for Millenials on the move. This generation is careful with how they spend their time, not wanting to waste a minute of it.
They are all for new technology and expect everything to be quick, easy and at a proper price point. They prefer non-verbal transactions and are 40 times more likely to use a service that they can manage on their phones.
E-scooters are fun-to-ride, and there's something nostalgic about a kickstand and throttle. Cruising through the city streets sure beats sitting on a sweaty subway smelling other people's stale breath and body odor (just sayin').
So, What's the Big Deal?
The whole idea seems simple enough as it helps cut down on wear and tear of buses, subways, and roadways. Yet, city officials are up in arms over the introduction of e-scooters as a new form of public transportation.
State and city governments are raising a stink over public health and safety. They are cracking down on rental companies for not having proper permits and business licenses before launching these programs. While the scooters don't reach dangerous travel speeds, government and policyholders worry about insurance costs.
Parking is also an issue. With scooters getting abandoned near trees, benches, and parking meters. While Citi Bike didn't have as hard a time pleasing city officials, being dockless seems to create some chaos.
All for a Better Scooter Strategy
So, e-scooter rental companies have some kinks to work out. Yet, they plan to fix issues with policies, permits, and parking. Organized parking methods and better bike lane infrastructure are ways they plan to appeal to city officials.
Current regulations require a valid driver's license to use scooters and download apps. When renting an electric scooter, you can also request a free helmet.
Companies are also working to keep scooters in top condition. As they have received a few complaints about the state scooters are being found in. They are crunching numbers to ensure scooter supply is keeping up with rider demands.
The startup scooter rental company, Skip, says they are doing things differently. They boast stronger and more durable vehicles. Platforms are wider, and they claim a safer and more stable ride.
Looking at the Big Picture
With climate changes, air pollution and global warming on the minds of our government, e-scooters seem like a great solution.
Governments are also planning to put a cap on the number of scooters that can stroll on the streets. This will ensure scooter traffic doesn't get out of hand and keep other transportation options thriving.
To keep operations running smooth, it looks like city officials and scooter companies need to come to an agreement on proper parking and regulations.
So, What Else Does the Future of Transportation Have in Store?
Electric transportation doesn't seem to be leaving anytime soon. In fact, new models are continuing to pop up all around the world.
In Berlin, new electric scooter models are a going larger and way faster. They cost about $20 for a full day's ride or $4 for 30 minutes.
Can We Borrow Your Battery?
In Taiwan, companies are experimenting with sharing batteries instead of scooters. City commuters buy a scooter and visit a local charge station when their battery runs low.
It works like a vending machine. Swap stations get placed around major cities, allowing scooter owners to drive up and do a quick swap for a fresh battery. After you own your scooter, the battery swap program only costs $10 per month.
This method cuts down on time spent charging your own battery. It also reduces costs and lets the scooter company keep on eye on battery supply and demand.
These companies must be on to something. As Tesla (whose founder, Elon Musk, is known for innovation in all things tech) is also researching their own electric re-charging facilities.
Trains, Planes, and Automobiles...But What Else?
The electric scooter is a great alternative for short distance transportation. But the future is still a bit unclear for those long-distance hauls.
Ride-sharing remains to be a popular method of transportation. Companies like Blade and Voom are offering shared seats on helicopters.
UberAir expects to take to the sky with their fleet of on-demand air taxis. It stems from the same idea as e-scooters, to promote cleaner air and less traffic. The taxis will also follow a ride-share model, to keep costs down.
Google gets creative (nothing new here!) with new plans for it's Waze app. It's hoping to encourage Waze drivers to pick up fellow passengers along their route. The idea is appealing, as drivers will get incentivized and rider prices expect to be much cheaper than Uber and Lyft.
Ford Motors is also experimenting with self-driving, ride-sharing transportation methods. Their focus is on eliminating traffic congestion by using real-time roadway management technology.
Other car manufacturers such as GM, Jaguar, and Porche are all jumping on the electric car bandwagon. They all plan to release new models within the next couple of years. Norway, India, and France are all making plans to ban gas-powered vehicles with an effort to help the environment.
Embracing the Change for Electric Scooters
Electric scooters are compact, cost-efficient, and a friend to the environment. As they continue to pop up in major cities, we should all get on board and embrace the change.
To scoot or not to scoot? Either way, this form of short distance transportation can benefit cities with congestion. If you're considering purchasing, rather than ride-sharing, check out this electric scooter buyer's guide.
So, wheels and thumbs way up to the future of electric scooters.