The use of E-Scooters was legalized in Germany with the ” Regulation on the Participation of Small Electric Vehicles in Traffic and on the Change of Other Regulations under the Road Traffic Act”.
The regulation became effective in June 2019. Supporters see this as an opportunity to make a traffic turnaround possible: It is expected that there will be fewer traffic jams in large cities and a decrease in parking problems. In addition, short distances can be covered quickly with an electric pedal scooter. A driver’s license is not required for until to now.
Critics are concerned about an increase in electrical and plastic waste due to the short durability of some models. They also believe there is a threat to road safety. The media have already reported on several heavy accidents. Sharing suppliers, such as Tier, have already voiced their views on n-tv: With considerably more than four million rides with Tier E-Scooters in Europe, only 37 mainly minor accidents have been registered with the company so far. The role that E-Scooters will actually play on German roads in the future will become clear in the coming months. However, the trend is already leading to a competitive market among suppliers.
Buy or rent an E-Scooter?
If you would like to buy an E-Scooter, you will already find many offers. Both retail and mail order companies offer numerous models. While some vehicles are already offered for less than 400 Euros, others are available for more than 1,000 Euros. Especially battery life, driving performance and range can differ considerably. Nevertheless, many customers do not want to spend a lot of money on acquisition or maintenance. It is also necessary to only use E-Scooters that are actually certified. As reported by the NDR, though, many existing models on the market do not meet the requirements. In fact, interested buyers often decide not to purchase because they doubt the durability of the vehicles. This is the reason for the increasing use of sharing services.
Sharing offers per app
A few weeks after the regulation came into effect, it appears that sharing providers are trying to conquer the streets of big German cities with their E-Scooters. The existing sharing systems per app are very similar in their utilization: In order to use them, the required application must first be downloaded, an account created via the phone number and a mail address provided. The app displays the availability of E-Scooters in the area on a digital map. Though according to the Federal Ministry of Transportation the age for use is 14 years, sharing providers are much stricter: Tier, VOI, Circ and Lime, for instance, require confirmation that the user is of age.
Payment methods and costs for E-Scooter-Sharing per App
The credit card is the most common payment method. Other options, such as PayPal and debit cards, are occasionally offered.
The user can select a vehicle via the Find Location function. The costs include unlocking the vehicle (usually one euro) and then a usage fee per minute (in Berlin currently: 0.15 euro/minute). The usage fee per minute varies from town to town. The VOI provider’s prices are also influenced by demand, day of the week and the time. However, pricing does not yet seem to be final with the providers and may change accordingly. The user can find the current rate in the app. Usually, there is a QR code on the handlebar that can be scanned. This unlocks the vehicle. After parking the E-Scooter, the journey can be ended once again via the app. To ensure that the E-Scooters are also charged, providers such as Lime advertise so-called Juicers. You can earn money by charging the vehicles.
Already thousands of E-Scooters in major German cities
The consulting firm Civity Management Consultants published its first analysis at the end of June, and finds that sharing providers are fighting primarily for Germany’s major cities. Demand seems to be particularly high in these areas. According to media reports, four providers with a total of over 2,000 E-Scooters are already operating in Hamburg in mid-July. Five suppliers are also active in Berlin: Circ, Lime, Tier, VOI and Ufo. Tourism is expected to play a role here, as the analysis shows that demand is particularly high in tourist-oriented regions. However, the market is dynamic and changes practically daily: the offers are available in more and more cities and medium-sized towns are also coming into the attention of operators. But what about interested people living in rural areas?
E-Scooter per monthly rent from a catalog company
The Otto company is breaking new ground. As the enterprise announced on July 16th, 2019, the mail-order company offers E-Scooters for rent nationwide. The vehicle will be sent directly to the user. This should be an option especially for users who do not live in a big city and therefore have no sharing offers within reach. Otto advertises with a fixed price instead of per-minute fees: a monthly rent including insurance should cost 39 Euros at the start, which is about 1.30 Euros per day and therefore the price is much lower than with the existing sharing providers. The maintenance of the vehicle should also not bother the user: The mail-order company takes over the upkeep and maintenance of the E-Scooter. The first OTTO-NOW scooters should be available by the end of August. After the use, the E-Scooter can be returned to Otto. With the mail-order company, the fiercely contested market of sharing providers has another strong competitor. But how can the market be analyzed at all?
Key figures for the use of E-Scooters
For providers and market analysis experts, key figures are of great importance: for example downtimes, daily trips, fleet size etc. are recorded. It is crucial for suppliers to know how often the E-Scooters are being moved. Available vehicles and the charge level can also be monitored. But how long are the E-Scooters used for? The Civity analysis reveals the average distance of a vehicle from four suppliers:
- VOI: 2.8 km
- Circ: 2.4 km
- Lime: 2,3 km
- Tier: 1,8 km
This indicates that the use of an E-Scooter is particularly suitable for shorter distances. However, if you have, for instance, a journey of about 15 km to work, you are unlikely to use an E-Scooter – if only because the vehicle has to be charged regularly.
Is the market interesting to investors?
The future will show which role e-scooters will play in German cities in the future. Currently, media attention is high and the sharing providers are fighting for the market. However, it is probably only a matter of time before it becomes clear which providers will be able to assert themselves and hold their own in the long term. Prospective investors should therefore observe and analyze the market, especially with regard to user demand. Providers who regularly struggle with technical difficulties will probably not be able to hold their own in the long term. Pricing can still change and further possible subscription models can be introduced. It should also be interesting to see whether other large providers, such as the mail-order company Otto, will be able to compete with the already well-known sharing companies.
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