E-scooters have only been legal in Germany for a matter of days, but public curiosity — as well as a Continental heatwave — has already made them a common sight in many cities.
Lawrence Leuschner, chief executive officer of one of Europe’s biggest e-scooter providers, Tier Mobility, said the app required to locate and unlock a Tier scooter was downloaded hundreds of thousands of times in Germany during the first four days. Users in the country made a collective 300,000 kilometres of journeys on Tier scooters in that time, he said.
“It helped us pass the three-million total worldwide rides milestone recently,” he said. “We launched in 32 cities and we are profitable in our core markets, which have 90 percent of our fleet.”
Germany’s decision to legalise e-scooters came as Europeans fought to stay cool as a blast of hot air from the Sahara desert caused record temperatures in large parts of the continent. The country imposed speed restrictions on usually limit-free stretches of its highway network.
Rather than deterring riders, the scorching temperature actually made the newly-legal scooters more attractive than some other forms of transport. Andreas Katzig, who rode one for the first time in Munich, said that “compared to a bike, you’re not sweating. That’s a huge advantage in the summertime.”
Katharina Rzepucha, also in Munich, said scooters are an alternative to running than public transport.
“If I see something that’s a kilometre away, and I don’t want to run there, this is way better,’’ she said.
Tier’s app overtook Facebook Inc’s WhatsApp and Instagram, as well as Google Maps, YouTube, Spotify, Amazon, and Netflix, to become the most popular download in Apple’s German iOS app store this week, according to the iPhone-maker’s official charts.
US e-scooter giant Lime also broke into the top 10. Sweden’s Voi Technology AB, and Berlin-based Circ, launched in Germany this month as well.
Demand for e-scooters in cities worldwide have helped the industry’s biggest players, such as Bird Rides Inc and Lime, achieve multi-billion-dollar valuations in less than two years.
Barclays analysts Kristina Church, Ryan Preclaw, and Ben McSkelly, wrote in a report that “even at current cost per mile, we estimate an $800 billion revenue opportunity for micromobility operators in the near term. The addressable market could rise substantially.”
However, no company has said it’s actually profitable. Deploying, replacing, and increasingly now designing scooters from scratch, involved enormous capital expenditure costs. The low cost of using a scooter, combined with copycat businesses springing up in quick succession, hasn’t made it easy for companies or investors to recoup early spending.