The corona crisis has been bringing various companies to their knees over the past two months. This includes many e-scooter providers. Since its approval early summer 2019, 2020 should be the year of Tier Mobility, Lime, Bird & Co. Due to COVID-19, almost all providers in Germany registered for short-time work. On the one hand, they wanted to meet the government's call to stay at home. On the other hand, this was the only way to minimize the operating costs for the scooters as much as possible by having them collect them from the street and keep them in their depot. But how are providers dealing with the current corona crisis? And what happens after COVID-19 with shared mobility? We take a look behind the scenes of the individual providers.
How are Lime, Bird and TIER Mobility dealing with Corona?
The electric scooter industry is suffering from the current corona crisis. Since thousands of employees in Germany have been working in home offices for weeks or have been sent on short-time work, the need for electromobility is currently at a low point. Added to this is the fear of a potential infection with COVID-19. This combination ensured that international scooter providers such as Lime, Bird, Voi and Jump stopped operating their scooters in Germany until further notice. TIER Mobility chose a completely different path in this difficult time: with a reduced fleet, the Berlin company wants to continue to be there for those who currently have to be on our roads. In order to reduce running costs, only around 700 of the actual 2,000 e-scooters are currently available in the 30 cities in which Tier is active.
TIER Mobility launched the "Heroes" program
The Berlin-based shared mobility provider TIER Mobility launched a unique program called “Heroes” on the occasion of Corona, in which the Heroes, the heroes of our everyday lives, can use the electric scooters free of charge. These everyday heroes include rescue workers, police officers and firefighters, nurses and doctors as well as supermarket employees, to whom TIER wishes to pay tribute and express its thanks.
TIER is now going multi-modular
With the purchase of the Bosch subsidiary Coup, TIER Mobility is the first provider to take the multi-modular path. In addition to electric scooters, the Berlin-based company now also has around 5,000 e-mopeds including the charging infrastructure from Coup Mobility. With this double-track approach, Berliners hope for increased use of the shared mobility offerings across the country. The more flexible the options for users, the greater the acceptance could be - they are the hope of TIER. And this is exactly the principle we use at ePilot: Interested parties can use a transparent plug-and-play subscription service. We want to act as a full-service agency especially for small and medium-sized companies, where they use, coordinate and manage the services of providers of e-scooters, e-mopeds, e-cars and e-bikes in various German cities via dashboard can.
What's next for shared mobility after corona?
Everyday life is slowly starting up again in many areas after the nationwide lockdown. The shops are allowed to open again and service providers such as hairdressers, hotels and cinemas are also allowed to gradually open their doors to visitors - in compliance with strict hygiene regulations. And more and more workers are also longing for the end of their prescribed home office in order to finally be able to drive back to their workplace. And right now would be the ideal time for all providers of e-scooters all over Germany to get their fleet up and running again. Many commuters are still afraid to use public transport for fear of the COVID-19 virus. And this fear will probably increase as the buses and trains get fuller again. This cautious stance also offers electric scooters a huge opportunity: Companies like TIER, Lime, Bird & Co. still have to come up with something to draw commuters' attention to the topic of shared mobility at this time. However, the chances of a good start for 2020 are not that bad.
What could the new "hygiene concept" for electric scooter providers look like?
A sophisticated hygiene concept is required to reduce the fear of potential transmission of the COVID-19 virus from the users of electric scooters. Only if someone perceives the use of a scooter as risk-free can operations start up again in this country. What options do providers like TIER, Voi and Co. have? And what should they provide so that the electric scooters can be used? The most important point here is certainly the topic of disinfection. Every provider has to come up with a concept to ensure that the handles of all scooters are completely disinfected after use. However, since the scooters can be handed in at countless stations and borrowed again, the subject of disinfection could be quite difficult. One possibility would be to attach additional bags that contain disinfectants, for example. This would allow users to clean and disinfect the handles themselves before reusing them. But would these bags also be safe from potential thieves? Another alternative would be the increased use of so-called juicers, i.e. freelance employees of the respective providers. Usually the juicers collect the e-scooters at regular intervals, charge their batteries and then set them up again. Perhaps it will be another task of the juicers in the future to regularly disinfect handles. It remains to be seen what the providers' hygiene concepts will look like.