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Authenticating e-Mobility, Which eScooters and eBikes are Trustworthy?

The rapid growth of new eMobility vehicles is creating quality, regulatory and compliance issues. A solution is emerging to ensure safety, quality and authentic vehicles.

By Stephen Coulter & Krystyna Weston

eScooters, eBikes and new forms of eMobility are evolving and innovating rapidly:

  • New form factors
  • One, two, three or four wheels
  • Seats, no seats
  • Small wheels, large wheels
  • Speed limited, unlimited speed

…and more.

Governments are struggling to keep up — most laws were written for bikes — maybe eBikes at best. Few countries have consistent laws covering all forms of eMobility. Even worse, in many countries, each State or Province may have different laws.

Complicating this further are cheap copy models, inferior components — some dangerous — and aftermarket modifications of bikes and scooters to get around manufacturing laws and limits!

While Donald Trump invented #fakenews, fake products have been increasing in online market places for many years. Ninebot/Segway scooters, as pictured above, are a classic example in micromobility. Cheap and dangerous components are used, looking virtually identical. Common examples are low-quality batteries and chargers which don't comply with ISO or safety standards. These fakes undermine the authentic brands and entice consumers to buy products which may endanger them. It’s happening in every product imaginable — fresh produce, alcohol, medications, designer brands and many more. This recent NY Times article expands on the problem.

It’s making it difficult for manufacturers to protect their brands and for governments to regulate and enforce design and safety standards. At the end of this article are links to just some recent articles on micromobility standards and compliance issues.

Attempts are being made to define standards, but how do you detect fakes and enforce compliance.

The OECD-ITF Safe Micromobility report from February 2020 set out a useful framework for classifying eMobility devices. In November 2019, SAE International published “SAEJ3194 Taxonomy& Classification of Powered Micromobility Vehicles”. Also in November 2019, DEKRA published its “Micro-Mobility Standard — an integrated approach to safety and sustainability for e-scooters and other micro-vehicles.

The Proposed Definition by the OECD-ITF Safe Micromobility Report

While these reports are useful, they set out different standards which different countries may adopt — or a country, state or province may decide to invent its own rules!

These standards are mostly hardware-based, beyond these vehicle requirements, each country, state, province, or city may have additional requirements to approve electric vehicles. For example, Germany’s speed limit is 20 kmh, the UK is 15.5 mph, Adelaide in Australia is 15 kph for share scooters only, etc.

City-specific limits can make sense if different riding conditions are allowed — but how can this be easily monitored and enforced — especially when the same laws also often apply to privately owned electric personal mobility devices.

Van Moof, one of our favourite eBikes, has had issues in Germany where owners can change to USA mode in the Van Moof app and exceed German speed limits. In Germany, this changes the class of bike to a “speed pedelec” which requires insurance and can't be ridden on many bike paths! Van Moof is releasing a German model by November to address this issue. It will still be invisible to police without inspecting the app settings and bike.

A Peek into the Future

It’s February 2022:

  • A UK consumer has ordered a new electric scooter and is excited as they unbox it! They lift the scooter carefully, get out their mobile phone and point the camera at an unusual-looking QR type code.

“Authentic” pops up on the phone screen! “Your scooter meets all UK design and safety standards”.

  • A range of information is provided, the manufacturing date and location, serial number, shipping details from the factory and a link to the detailed specifications to which the scooter was manufactured.
  • A list of ISO and other standards the scooter complies with are also available.
  • The consumer clicks the register button and instantly is advised:

Your scooter’s warranty has been activated and registered with the UK Department of Transport. Would you like insurance?

  • By clicking “Yes,” insurance options are presented, and a simple click registers the scooter, its serial number, specifications, owner’s details and activates the insurance policy.

This is an example of some of the activities which can be performed securely to prove and register authenticity, the provenance of electric vehicles and components. The range of use cases is vast and can be readily enabled by unique IP, creating immutable records to enhance safety, user experience and government enforcement.

A Solution for Ensuring Vehicle Standards and Compliance to Local Laws (Plus lots more)

As micromobility insurance consultants, we have been working closely with these issues. Insurance only covers legal vehicles ridden in compliance with local laws. We have an active interest to ensure vehicles are legal, safe and abiding by local laws.

We have identified an “authenticity verification” solution able to be implemented quickly for any electric vehicle. The solution, technology and IP are proven in other markets and product categories around the world.

The service can be used:

  • by Governments to ensure and enforce compliance with local requirements
  • by Manufacturers to safeguard and protect the authenticity of quality vehicles — no fakes
  • by Shared Fleet operators to manage compliance with city conditions
  • by Consumers to handle registration, insurance, maintenance, retailer benefit programs, integrated MaaS ticketing and more
  • to quickly identify vehicles modified beyond permitted standards
  • to enable easy registration, if required
  • to maintain a lifetime record of any vehicle and its maintenance history
  • to support insurance, warranty and maintenance programs

In short provide an immutable lifetime record of every vehicle which can be specific to any country, state, province or city.

Benefits of Authenticating Vehicle Standards

  • Safety
  • Elimination of Fakes/Grey Markets
  • Compliance fo registration, insurance and enforcement
  • Vehicle lifetime management

Safety is a real benefit.

Governments are looking for ways to control new vehicles and ensure they only operate within the performance limits set for their city, state, province or country. A simple way of proving and enforcing this will enable governments to approve the use of private and shared vehicles, knowing their compliance with locally required standards can be managed.

A universal authentication platform can support use cases around the world:

  • France will be able to detect vehicles which have been modified.
  • Singapore can ensure vehicles meet registration standards.
  • The UK can ensure privately owned vehicles meet public use standards.
  • Germany can ensure vehicle speed governing is detectable.
  • Manufacturers can eliminate fake models and “grey” markets. Only authentic manufacturers have access to enabling technology and IP. The metadata and access methods prevent copying.
  • The quality of components most known to cause risks — such as batteries — can be enforced to ensure only components meeting regulated standards are used, and non-compliant components are identifiable.

Non-compliant PMD charging in Singapore apartments have caused many fires.

We’re Looking for Partners

If you’ve read this far, you understand the importance and value of authenticity and the many ways it can be applied. We’re looking for manufacturers, share operators, retailers and governments who want to be part of a “flight to quality” to ensure the authenticity, compliance and safety of existing and evolving electric vehicles.

Our solution can be implemented quickly as part of the manufacturing process or aftermarket. It is low-cost, high-value solution — typically under $10 per unit to add at a manufacturing level.

If you’d like to be part of this innovative flight to quality for micromobility, reach out to us at Zipidi, stephen@zipidi.fun.

Unlike Jian Yang’s hotdog detector, our solution can authenticate any product or component instantly.

Some Recent Articles on Micromobility Regulation & Issues

Below are links to recent articles from around the world, identifying some of the issues we can solve with a ubiquitous method of authenticating trusted vehicles.

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News and views from Zipidi on micromobility, scooters and smart mobility. Zipidi develops micromobility insurances, solutions and services for smart cities, shared mobility operators, companies and commuters.

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