The German electric scooter rental company Tier introduces a new model equipped with a replaceable battery. The Swedish competitor Voi also includes a new e-scooter model in its range: The Voiager 4 has indicators – a first in its class.
To begin: Tier wants to launch their new model, which has replaceable batteries, in combination with specially developed charging stations. The Berlin-based start-up names local companies such as cafés and grocery stores as the target group for the mobility concept (MaaS). The setting up of the charging stations will not incur any costs for the partners, according to the accompanying press release. Tier takes care of everything up to the cost of electricity.
The charging technology used was developed by the London-based hardware start-up Pushme, which Tier took over at the beginning of the year. Their team revolves around the former Tesla engineer George Kalligeros developing the swapping technology – a concept that Gogoro of Taiwan has been pioneering for its large scooters for some time. Only here users own the scooters and pay for the battery as a service.
The new electric scooter model has a foldable helmet and indicators on the handlebars and rear fender. Tier has retained the large front wheel, a wider footplate, double suspension, a double stand and dual drum brakes. The new models will initially be used from 1 September in Tampere, Finland. A fleet of 1,000 vehicles will be installed there in combination with 50 charging stations distributed throughout the city. In the “following months”, Tier plans to introduce the new model, including the charging stations, in all European countries where the company is already active, they say. The goal is to implement this plan by the end of 2021. However, the Berliners are still looking for partners for the project.
In principle, the new approach saves Tier the time-consuming charging of the electric scooter. The users are to settle this led on with an incentive: Who replaces the batteries at a station gets free trips. Lawrence Leuschner, CEO and co-founder of Tier, speaks of an “active role” that users could play in the future in designing climate-neutral mobility and building better cities. “By integrating this new kind of swappable battery technology, we are building a Europe-wide charging network that allows users to play an active part in adopting climate-neutral travel and building better cities. At the same time, by hosting the charging pods in local businesses, we are helping high streets to recover from lockdown. (…) It is our plan that in time our charging network will not just service e-scooters, but other vehicles too,” says Leuschner.
Meanwhile, electric scooter rental company Voi is also introducing a new model, the Voiager 4, which, according to the Swedish company, has been further developed, especially in terms of safety. It also has indicators, a higher degree of connectivity and GPS technology, “that enables scooters to be tracked to within one-meter accuracy.” Built-in AI components should also make it possible to predict necessary servicing and maintenance better to have more functioning kickscooters on the road.
For the first time, a Voi vehicle also has a NFC reader that allows people without a smartphone to unlock the scooter by card. Imagine using it with your Oyster card in London as an add-on to public transport. The company hopes that this will open up a new target group. Finally, in cooperation with Advanzia Bank, the company is introducing its own Mastercard credit card with which miles can be collected and redeemed for free rides via an integrated bonus system.
Lastly to the UK, where Voi is among the first companies rolling out rental e-scooters. The Swedish start-up just scored a contract to run exclusive trial across Northampton and Kettering by Northamptonshire County Council as part of the Smart Move Northamptonshire initiative.
Since the government in Westminster has fast-forwarded and opened up the planned trials to introduce new legislation, more than 50 councils and regional authorities are putting in place e-scooter pilots, which can run for a year. Cities including Liverpool, West Midlands (including Birmingham, Coventry, Wolverhampton and Dudley), Newcastle and Southampton were amongst those to express interest in running a pilot, according to Voi. Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority have already selected the Swedish company to run its 12-month scooter and e-bike trial which starts imminently.
Additional reporting by Nora Manthey, London.
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