“People want and need to move around.” – Industry Insiders #10

Our latest interview is with the CEO of felyx, Daan Becker. Getting an insight into what the moped sharing market looks like right now, we discussed the challenges of attracting new users to the mode and what the future of shared mobility looks like.

“People want and need to move around.” – Industry Insiders #10

With over 2 years of experience at felyx, Daan Becker was appointed CEO of the company in March this year. Having worked as Head of Strategic Projects and later Head of Operations in the company, Daan is very familiar with the operational perspective of running a shared mobility service. Felyx currently operates in the Netherlands and Brussels, providing mopeds in around 20 cities. 

Source: felyx

Fluctuo: Where does your interest in the shared mobility industry come from?

Daan: I like mobility; I like its complexity, and I enjoy figuring out the logistics of moving people around cities. I also like that you supply a demand that actually exists. People want and need to move around. 

Shared mobility specifically provides an efficient solution for a lot of the problems we face in crowded, urban areas. As people increasingly move into cities, their mobility needs also grow. There’s now a real expectation for people, cities and companies to become more sustainable. When weighing up these two demands, shared mobility emerges as a really strong solution. Having vehicles that are able to fulfil 6 or 7 trips per day allows citizens’ mobility needs to be met in a sustainable way, whilst also resolving issues such as insufficient parking spaces for private vehicles. Cities nowadays clear so much space for private vehicles that there is no longer any space for parks, playgrounds and other green spaces.

"It's really important to me to make the world more green through shared mobility."

Why did you choose to focus on mopeds over other shared mobility modes?

For now, Felyx only offers mopeds. We manage a very complex operation, so to keep it efficient we stay laser-focused on mopeds. Mopeds act as a great in-between vehicle: not only are they more sustainable than cars, but they are also much easier to share than bikes. It doesn’t really make sense to offer shared bikes in the Netherlands as most people own private bikes, so there’s no real demand for them. In regard to (kick) scooters, they are too similar to bikes or even walking, as they only suit short-distance journeys. Therefore, when compared to other shared mobility modes, mopeds act as the strongest alternative to car trips. 

How do you encourage new users to try out mopeds, given that it is less common compared to bikes or scooters?

The main barrier is that you need to have a driving licence. Aside from that, another hurdle that new users face is the lack of a moped category on Google Maps. This deters a lot of people from trying out mopeds, as when they try to navigate, they’re often forced to choose between the bike or car category, which can lead to safety issues such as being in the wrong lane - or joining a dual carriageway by accident. Generally, some people can be quite nervous about jumping on a moped and giving it a go, whereas scooters might feel easier.

To combat this problem and attract new users, we incorporate lots of features in our app, such as tutorials and resources. We also organise annual workshops, so people can try out mopeds in a safe environment.

Source: felyx

What are the biggest challenges that mopeds are currently facing in the shared mobility industry?

A big issue involves working out where exactly mopeds fit in the mobility space. In Northern Europe, mopeds don’t really have a clear parking spot on the street like other mobility modes do. In comparison, Southern European countries like Spain have a lot of two-wheeler spaces that mopeds can use. 

When cities plan their shared mobility schemes, they should definitely consider improving moped parking and infrastructure. Currently, in the Netherlands, our mopeds often have to be parked on pavements; there is a lot of space for cars, and clear, defined spots for bikes as well, but no distinctions made for mopeds. Establishing the moped’s position in the industry is important, so that dedicated infrastructure can be developed.

Is there concern that the moped industry may face increasing financial struggles?

Given that felyx has been around for almost seven years, I think we have really polished our operations. Moreover, moped usage in the Netherlands is quite high, which also really helps. Thanks to both of these factors, we are getting to profitability next year, although financial issues generally arise when operators go to new countries. This is tough.

"Each city has a very different culture and approach to urban mobility, and replicating the service you provide in your own country won’t necessarily work."

Our Q2 European Shared Mobility Index saw that compared to this year and last year, there’s been almost a 30% drop in fleet sizes and ridership. Why do you think that is? 

Recently, there has been a big push for size and expansion coming from all operators. They thought that they could continue the growth curve strongly, however what we ended up seeing was an overflow of vehicles across all modes, leading to this drop in fleet sizes and ridership. This is natural; all new industries experience these growing pains, and we’ll certainly recover.

Source: Fluctuo Q2 European Index

Read more about the latest developments in the moped industry in our latest European Shared Mobility Index. 👇

How do you envision the future of shared mopeds?

I think we will see a real consolidation of the market in different countries. This will come about in two ways:

  1. With so many operators providing services in different cities, size and profitability concerns will really come into play. 
  2. The tender system is also important to consider. This is already popular in the Netherlands, and other cities in Europe are also implementing this more. This will refine the services provided by having fewer operators per city. The tender system is particularly advanced when municipalities choose operators based on their merits, although there is room for improvement as some permits are granted based on random selection.

Currently, in some European countries, we see scooters having a hard time, for many reasons such as stricter regulations. On a sustainability level, scooters make less of an impact than mopeds. They mostly replace bikes and walking – claiming that they replace car trips is a very hard case to make. So for the future, I don’t think all modalities will survive; the tender system will really help refine the existing shared mobility market.

If you think we should be interviewing you, let us know!

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