Monday, September 23, 2019

Ford’s scooter company launches aggressive expansion plan with next-gen scooter

Spin, the dockless scooter company acquired by Ford Motor Company last year, announced that it will deploy 15,000 scooters in eight cities starting in August. The company also unveiled its latest model of electric scooter, with anti-theft technology and custom parts meant to deter vandalism.

Spin has been expanding since it was bought by Ford in November 2018, but today’s news marks a more rapid stage of growth. At the time of its acquisition, the San Francisco-based company operated rentable electric scooters in nine cities and on five college campuses. Today, that number has grown to 47 cities and campuses.

Starting in August, Spin plans to deploy thousands of new scooters on the streets of Portland; Los Angeles; Denver; Washington, DC; Kansas City; Memphis; and Minneapolis, with more cities to follow. The new scooter is manufactured in China by Segway-Ninebot, a Chinese-American company backed by Xiaomi, the world’s predominant scooter-maker.

Here are some specs of the new scooter:

λ Larger frame, strengthened mechanical structure, and wider and longer platform

λ More intuitive and responsive bike handle braking system

λ Bigger (10-inch) tubeless tires, which provide better shock absorption over rough terrain and conditions

λ Rear drive high efficiency for improved acceleration and uphill performance

λ Custom security screws exclusively developed and manufactured for Spin’s scooters to deter tampering and vandalism

λ Significantly extended battery life, enabling each scooter to ride up to 37.5 miles on a full charge

λ Upgraded Spin authentication system that is uniquely associated with its modules

While much smaller than its rivals in dockless scooter sharing like Bird and Lime, Spin has Ford as a parent company, which potentially gives it a much longer runway to scale its business without worrying too much about making a profit.

The dockless scooter industry has hit many bumps on the road in that past year, including problems with vandalism, injured riders, and a product that broke down too quickly for the companies to recoup their costs. Bird, which reportedly lost $100 million in three months, is seeking new funding at a valuation of $2.5 billion.

Spin conducted a pilot test of its new scooter in Baltimore in late June, but it’s too soon for the company to determine the scooter’s average lifespan (i.e., how long it can stay in service before breaking down), CEO Derrick Ko said. “However, based on our data so far, we are confident that we will see a significant improvement over our current second-generation scooter,” Ko said in a statement.

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