We spoke to Aléxandre Tziampazis, a consultant in the mobility industry, who has worked for Volkswagen, Toyota, Free Now, and Fluctuo.
What’s caught your attention in shared mobility news?
Paris is obviously the major one, and to be honest I am surprised with the outcome, especially when the city and the operators have done so much in the past years. The issue isn't really parking and bad driving behaviour. Even with shared operators closing down, those issues will still exist with private scooters. I’m not sure I understand the decision.
Helbiz is an interesting one too: changing their brand to something bigger. Using the term micromobility in their rebranding, it’s bold, especially when using a term that’s generic to belong to one company. Does this mean that they are shifting their business focus? What will they do with the other business lines such as Helbiz kitchen, and their sports streaming platform LIVE? Keep in mind that 60% of their revenue in Q1 2023 came from those two lines versus 40% from mobility. They’ve also announced that they’re doing more long term rentals with Wheels. Diversification and experimenting are not bad things, but I am not sure if I would experiment so much. I guess we will have to wait and see the outcomes.
Between and sometimes within countries, there are differing levels of strictness concerning regulations; what’s your opinion on this?
It depends on the mode. Kick scooters get the most attention; it’s been almost three years now in the UK that there have been over 25 public trials with scooters. What’s the next step? Six months ago, most trials were finishing up and around 90% of the cities or so extended their trials, but there’s nothing concrete. Personally, I think it’s taking too long.
Germany has more permit-focused rules, with operators applying and being approved which keeps it a bit under control, while operators have the opportunity to enter. Most French cities, in contrast to German ones, usually make tenders with a concrete list of requirements. Some cities are going the extra mile to work towards integrating micromobility a bit more. In Germany, Nextbike is seen as public transport; why doesn’t the same attitude exist for scooters, mopeds, or even car sharing? I loved the comment from your first Industry Insiders: “Operators don’t get subsidies because scooters aren’t valued as a public transport mode.”
A very interesting example on the permit versus tender debate though is Oslo, who had fleet troubles around 2021 June. They ended up making a tender in 2022 dropping down from 19,000 scooters and several operators, to just 3 with 8,000.
What are your predictions for the future of shared mobility?
2022 was the year of aiming for profitability. You’ll see that a lot of companies closed down or were acquired. As mentioned before, 2023 will basically be continuing that i.e. streamlining operations and focusing on profit.
2023 and onwards, technology will play more and more of a role.
You can see glimpses of this in tenders asking for more requirements–such as in parking–and tech that detects riding behaviour such as multiple people on one vehicle, or riding on pavements.
What changes do you hope to see in the industry?
They’re already happening: proper focus on operations, cities are starting to control more of the clutter on the street. I’d like to see more integration with public transport. There are lots of companies connecting with last mile initiatives: some in Italy and Germany have integrated with transport companies. For example, getting a train ticket and with that a discount for a scooter when you arrive at your destination.
On the other hand, I’ve seen 3 people simultaneously riding on one scooter, in Paris and Brussels specifically. Some companies have announced that they are developing technology to track how many people are on a scooter at once, and the data from this could potentially create good tech for educating riders about safety and lead to less accidents. All micromobility vehicles, except for the Double Pony, are made for one person.
But other than tech to notify the operator of unfavourable behaviour, maybe declining the trip, or even issuing fines at a later stage, tackling the need might be a better focus: maybe it would be good to have more group rides. By that I mean one person could have one account to unlock several vehicles under discount packs (which could be probably the reason why youngsters opt for riding one scooter all together, as it’s currently cheaper to split the cost of one). Bird and Lime have this for some cities. If done right, it might even bring slightly more revenue (one 4€ ride with 2-3 people, or two to three rides of 1.5€ each or 4.5€ for the group ride of the 2-3 people).
This is what’s happening in 2023; the industry is streamlining.
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