Micromobility Doesn’t Have to be Disposable

We had over 600 Kicks on the road last weekend and only lost one.

Scoot Kicks locked to a bike rack in Santiago, Chile.

Contrast that to three months ago when we launched our first Kicks in San Francisco and Santiago, and more than half of the Kicks we put on the street never came home.

The difference is that by last weekend our entire fleet was equipped with our new Kick lock, a cable that attaches the Kick to a bike rack to prevent it from being stolen or parked in the wrong place. Loss rates with the lock are so low that we now project a Kick will be used for a year before it is lost or decommissioned. That is more than 6x the industry useful life for a scooter.

With the theft and vandalism and parking problems solved, we are ready to expand our Kick service in San Francisco, Santiago, and every other city where we operate, and to do it in a secure, orderly, sustainable manner.

We now know that the electric scooter boom of 2018 had an underlying flaw: The vehicles were being stolen and vandalized at such a high rate that they were effectively disposable, ending up in lakes, landfills, online auctions, and Instagram accounts. But before they became trash they were being ridden so often that the companies renting them out were actually making money.

Scoot stepped in the way we have with every other electric vehicle we have offered to our riders: We found a vehicle that could be adapted to sharing, wired it up to our platform, got permission from the local authorities to launch it, and launched it into the city under the close supervision of our full-time Field Techs and Rider Reps.

A Scoot e-bike being secured to a bike rack in Barcelona.

It didn’t take long for us to realize that the other electric scooter companies had been hiding something. We knew that theft would be a bigger issue with these smaller vehicles than it has been with our electric motos and bicycles, but we didn’t know how much bigger. As the losses grew to unsustainable levels, we pulled back, regrouped, and accelerated development of our Kick lock — an app-connected cable lock similar to the lock our riders use to secure our electric bicycles to bike racks in Barcelona.

We committed to San Francisco that we would redeploy our full 625 permitted Kicks once we were sure they could be operated sustainably and only a minimum number would end up as waste.

Today our entire fleets of Kicks in San Francisco and Santiago are equipped with our electronic, app-integrated infrastructure lock, and the lock is working. We have cut theft and vandalism to a minimum and are adding as many vehicles as the cities will let us deploy.

But a lock isn’t just about security. It is also about scooters being parked where they are supposed to be parked, and not wherever the last person left them, possibly in the way of pedestrians. An unsecured vehicle looks like a vehicle that no one cares about and that you shouldn’t care about either. When that vehicle is an electric vehicle that costs hundreds of dollars and carries the logo of a tech company, that company can look arrogant by just leaving it on the street unsecured. Securing the vehicle shows respect for public space and the community we share it with.

Unlocking a Kick in San Francisco.

The biggest challenge in this new, multi-billion dollar industry is just keeping the vehicles where they are supposed to be when they are not being used for quick, zero-emission rides around town. We solved that problem just a few months after launching our first version of this product. We were able to find a solution so quickly because we have been managing shared electric vehicles in cities longer than anyone else. We were the first company to put an electric two-wheeler on the street that you could locate and rent with your phone and then leave it in any legal parking space when you are done. Kicks are the fifth type of shared electric vehicle we have offered to our riders, after our mopeds, mini cars, bikes, and motorbikes. More are on the way.

Over the next ten years, every major city will embrace services like Scoot as much as they have embraced subways and buses. As a city-friendly, multi-modal, electric vehicle asset manager, our job is to demonstrate how to run these important new transportation services sustainably, equitably, and profitably, so that when they are being run at global scale, they are run properly.