Lime, Tier and Dott were granted permission to operate in Paris, while all other operators will have to pack up and go: The three e-scooter suppliers were able to prevail in a tender. They will each receive a two-year contract, during which they will be allowed to use 5,000 electric scooters in the city.
The selection of three companies is a reaction to the proliferation of electric scooters that Paris has been experiencing since the first scooters were introduced in 2018. In the meantime, around 20,000 electric scooters from a wide variety of manufacturers have flooded the city. The recently re-elected mayor Anne Hidalgo described the situation in 2019 as “anarchic”, while transport minister Élisabeth Borne stated at the time that the city was “under the law of the jungle”.
As a result, the city council prepared the strict regulation of the market. 16 bidders applied for the three advertised places. The US-American company Lime, the German company Tier and the Dutch company Dott prevailed. From September onwards the three companies will have the exclusive rights to operate in the city. Bird is likely to feel the loss. Together with Lime, Bird is one of the world’s first and largest e-scooter rental companies. What was likely a significant factor in the selection may have been that both Dott and Tier have agreed to comply with higher sustainability standards (as has Voi). Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said that electric kick scooter operators would be selected on the basis of three main criteria: safety for users, environmental responsibility, and the competent management of the maintenance and recharging of scooters.
The winning trio has made a commitment to the Paris city council to comply with a whole series of agreements. In general, they are to “contribute to the calming of public spaces and work according to high social and ecological criteria”. Among other things, the city has imposed an obligation on the service providers to employ their service staff on an indefinite basis in order to put an end to the common practice of using poorly paid self-employed people to collect the vehicles.
Another new feature is that the electric scooters can no longer be parked wildly on pavements. Paris is setting up 2,500 parking locations with space for six e-scooters each. In principle, the free-floating concept will thus become a stationary concept. Thanks to a large number of locations, however, this is unlikely to be a significant factor. Also interesting is that, according to the newspaper Le Monde, the trio has also agreed to reduce the speed of electric scooters on the Champs-Elysées to 8 km/h on Friday and Saturday evenings. This has been in response to illegal scooter races, which were regularly organised by young people on the famous promenade.
Incidentally, industry experts suspect that the decision in Paris could be a harbinger of further market concentration. They say that the French capital may pave the way for only two or three providers operating in Europe in the future. As reported, the Covid-19 pandemic has hit the young industry hard and led to a whole series of withdrawals from cities around the world. Even before that many companies were struggling to find the profit margin in the sharing business. At the same time, electric kick-scooter companies who have survived the pandemic so far look set for an overall increase in the light electric vehicles as more space-saving and non-polluting vehicles garner more favour. Not the least since the Covid-19 pandemic and gradual relaxing of travel restrictions: Lime says that on average journeys undertaken on electric kick-scooters have been 34 per cent longer in duration and 18 per cent farther than before it started.
As Paris has undergone its trials and tribulations fairly early on, other cities, like those in Britain, are only just getting going. Paris was early on the uptake and strong in reaction to problems that soon appeared. The French capital has recently grown into a safe-haven for biking, walking, and scootering because of the policies introduced by the Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, who in fact recently won reelection on a platform of removing cars from cities for the purpose of decongesting the streets and cleaner air.
Including reporting from Cora Werwitzke, Paris