In the previous post, we talked about why Micro EVs are the new breakthrough in the mobility industry after decades since the arrival of car. In the same month, UK government announced to review and legalize electric scooters soon and even Jeep plans to release their first e-bike ever. It is clear that the world is paving their way to encourage environmentally-friendly mobility mode - Micro EVs.
But the next question is - are we ready for a new breakthrough? And how can we strike a balance between regulations and innovations to allow growth of such smart city solutions for the betterment of mankind?
In order to address those questions, it is important to know a little bit of history on the vehicle sharing economy boom that happened from 2016–2019.
During this timeframe, we saw the rise of bicycle sharing (such as Mobike, Ofo), followed by the electric kick-scooter sharing (such as Bird, Lime, Telepod, Voi, Tier, Dott, etc).
While the bike sharing era may have caused the shared bikes to be piled in mountains, the shared electric kick-scooter has definitely caught the wave and captured a wider market audience, given its ease to ride. Statistics have shown that shared electric kick-scooters had 7x more adoption than shared bikes.
In the past, many cities have been trying to promote cycling culture by shifting away from car-based trips to reduce urban congestion and pollution. Yet, the adoption rate of bicycles is picking up slowly in some cities, especially in regions like Greater South East Asia where it’s hot & humid year-round. While cities look for sustainable mobility solutions to reduce congestion and pollution, industry players are already seeing the opportunity with huge demand waiting to be served. Hence they take proactive roles to use technology to reshape the urban transportation setting by implementing electric kick-scooters sharing — a user could pay with their smartphones; electric kick-scooters could be located, picked up and left anywhere.
Of course, there are clear reasons why electric kick-scooters are becoming popular. It simply gives the freedom of being in the fresh air, traveling to final destination effortlessly (with it being electric-powered) & seamlessly without being stuck in a jam. The amount of electric kick-scooters being used on streets has clearly led to massive deployment and explosive growth.
However, this results in a lot of negative headlines about accidents that involve injuries and littering of electric kick-scooters, thus raised concerns in several cities around the world and also making lawmakers hesitant to legalize electric kick-scooters in certain cities and zones.
Electric kick-scooters have experienced exponential growth in popularity within the last 2 years and are now commonly available in more than 100 cities across the world. They have been flooding cities since the introduction as one of the shared mobility options. The demand is real and the regulators were caught off-guard, struggling to set standard regulations for emerging mobility mode which solves the last mile problem in the cities. Until today, regulatory development still remains fragmented globally, regionally, and even on a city level. Below is an overview of the regulatory of path allocation for electric kick-scooters across the globe:
Innovations are moving at a faster pace than ever. While cities are still struggling to regulate electric kick-scooters, there are industry players who already have plans to move forward for the next vehicle form factor with better hardware, bigger wheels, stronger frame, etc. In the coming years, we are expecting to see a diversification of Micro EVs, e.g. egg-shaped electric wheelchair, hybrid e-bikes, e-mopeds, amphibious micro EVs. Given these trends, we foresee that the lines will be blurred between classifying various Micro EV types and it will get increasingly difficult in terms of path allocations. Policy makers will need a new approach on regulation so that cities will not be caught off-guard again.
Cities goals are clear: they want cities to be safe, to be sustainable. These are solution gaps that private industry players can use technology to fill up. However, it requires bilateral efforts between private industry players and cities to make it a success. Now, it is time to set the course right. We need to rethink new forms of public-private cooperation and partnerships with the core goals in mind. More open conversations between private industry players and cities are needed to strike a balance between regulations and innovations. We can choose to be ignorant, but here’s the deal: Either be disruptive or you get disrupted.
In a nutshell, the above mentioned requires a lot of dialogue and conversations between public & private industry players and other key stakeholders. It takes two to tango. Stakeholders have to be clear about the long-term goals for public interest and core goals for the cities. Regulatory frameworks to be designed with flexibility & agility to adapt to unforeseen innovation trends, so that cities do not get caught off guard every time something new floods the streets; Private industry players should also look at how innovations can help address some of the challenges and help cities to adapt. These will require iterative efforts from stakeholders.
For the mobility players and regulators out there, feel free to contribute your thoughts about striving for a balance between innovation and regulations.
The future of Micro EV begins today: