Various countries globally aim to ease transport-related problems like congestion, air pollution, noise pollution, and more. As a result, e-scooters are rising in popularity as they address various issues like reducing user’s carbon footprint, better mobility around congested cities, and of course saving money.
According to a report, the global e-scooter market is expected to grow by 16.32M units during 2021-2025, progressing at a CAGR of over 16 per cent during the forecast period. Right now, there are lots of e-scooter operators available in the market. Berlin- and Barcelona-based Wind Mobility is one such company that not only operates e-scooters but develops its custom-built vehicles as well.
Co-founded by Eric Wang in 2017, Wind Mobility is a micro-mobility company that offers convenient last-mile transportation services. The company attaches great importance to the availability, quality, and safety of its e-scooters and the usability of its app.
Recently, we caught up with Brendan Yang, Wind’s COO, to know more about the company’s philosophy, funding, expansion, and post-pandemic plans.
Idea of dockless scooter sharing
Talking about the idea of dockless scooter sharing, Brendan Yang says, “When we launched Germany’s first bicycle sharing system in 2017, our customers enjoyed the convenience of finding a bicycle anywhere in the city and dropping it off at the location where they wanted to go. It greatly helped generate higher adoption rates among users and supported the integration of this new micro-mobility solution within the urban transport mix. This is why we decided to transfer the model to our e-scooter sharing operations to offer a fun and healthy alternative to the car.”
With its eco-friendly and sustainable product, the company aims to make cities a better place by reducing traffic, carbon dioxide emission, and noise.
Made for sharing
Wind Mobility is the only operator in the world that builds its own e-scooters, a crucial factor that allows the company to adapt to local market conditions and innovate for maximum safety, sustainability and stability.
Yang shares, “We decided not to rely on off-the-shelf vehicles for our operations for two reasons: First, we want to be the safest operator of shared e-scooter systems, and there is simply no off-the-shelf product on the street that is more robust and more durable than the Wind 3.0 custom-built e-scooter. It is heavier and larger than comparable models with a wider platform, larger foam tyres that cannot burst, a double braking system, and the most modern technology.”
He continues, “And secondly, back in 2019, we realised that e-scooter sharing can only be truly sustainable if you deploy a fleet of scooters that have a longer life cycle – which retail products or any other sharing product did not provide at that time – and if you include a swappable battery to avoid having to return all scooters to the warehouse for charging every night.”
He further adds, “Owning the entire supply chain does not only help us scale the business but we also have full control over the quality of every single component down to the custom-made screws. This allows us to produce a scooter of the highest quality and subsequently increase the life cycle of the vehicle.”
According to him, each e-scooter has an average lifespan of 36 months, which is more durable than off-the-shelf products. “It also helps us strengthen our market position as customer feedback suggests the high popularity of our vehicle,” states Yang.
R&D and Innovation
A couple of years back, Wind Mobility unveiled a new e-scooter with a swappable battery to reduce the amount of downtime for the scooters. “Last but not least, having a custom-built product creates synergies for more efficient maintenance and repairs,” he tells Silicon Canals.
Wind’s electric scooters – developed and produced in the company’s own R & D centre – are among the safest and most durable in the market, claims Yang. The company consists of its R&D team with 20 engineers and is currently developing its new e-scooter model: The Wind 4.0.
Yang shares, “Innovation is what drives Wind. It is what makes us who we are, and we continue to set industry trends. Back in 2019, we were the very first operator to include a swappable battery in our scooters and last year, we deployed the world’s first e-scooter with a fully integrated helmet that can be locked and unlocked via the Wind app.”
He continues, “Wind 4.0 is currently in development, and we will soon announce the new features and expect it to hit the roads next year. But I can already say that we have doubled down on safety, technology, and customer experience, and it will again set standards for the industry.”
Unique value proposition
The current e-scooter Wind 3.0 is heavier and larger than comparable models, ensuring greater stability and a safer riding experience. The e-scooter also comes with bicycle-style handbrakes, two bright lights to increase visibility, water-resistance standards, and a horn button.
Further, Wind Mobility has numerous safeguards in place, including ‘geo-fencing,’ built-in hand sanitiser dispensers, GPS tracking to locate abandoned vehicles, free maintenance checks to long-term users, and more.
Talking about the USP of Wind Mobility e-scooters, Yang notes, “Our e-scooter includes the most modern software and IoT (Internet of Things) that ensure a safe and smooth riding experience for our customers. For example, our scooter is running diagnostic analyses during the ride to detect potential faults or system errors. If an error is detected, the scooter will automatically notify our local team on the ground, who will conduct maintenance and repairs if necessary.”
Right from designing to manufacturing the e-scooter, Wind Mobility relies on an in-house product for operations.
“As previously mentioned, the owned supply chain does not just benefit the company in terms of scaling the business and quality assurance, it also allows us to incorporate customer feedback directly into our product. When customers have an idea of how we could improve our vehicles, the product team will analyse the feasibility of the idea and how to incorporate it within the product pipeline. Having a custom-built model has also significantly lowered the risk of theft and vandalism. Our scooter has no real value for thieves, as it is impossible to resell parts of the scooter. Even the screws are custom-made and can only be turned with our custom-made tools,” Yang says to Silicon Canals.
Last year, the company achieved Climate Neutral Certified status by measuring its 2019 greenhouse gas emissions footprint, purchasing carbon credits to offset that footprint.
The e-scooter operator has offset the entirety of its 2019 carbon emissions for the production of its custom-built e-scooters and the operation of its sharing services in more than 35 cities globally.
“With our primary goal to lower carbon emissions and ease congestion in cities around the globe, sustainability naturally is a key part of our business,” says Yang. “We are also working to set off our 2020 greenhouse gas emissions.”
Talking about the pandemic, Yang adds, “With lockdowns in place in all markets and fewer people moving around, the last year was challenging – no doubt. Nevertheless, Wind has grown significantly as the pandemic has triggered an increase in demand for micro-mobility solutions and modes of transport that complement public transportation and allow for social distancing.”
He further adds, “Cities across Europe have pushed to allocate more public space to bicycles and e-scooters to avoid a renaissance of the car. We have seen that more people rely on our e-scooters during the morning and early evening hours, indicating that a larger number of people are using e-scooters for their daily commute. While it has been challenging, the pandemic has also accelerated the integration of e-scooters into cities’ transport systems.”
The Berlin-headquartered micro-mobility company has so far raised €65M from various investors, including Holtzbrinck Ventures and Source Code Capital. Notably, the company has achieved operational profitability in most of the markets where it currently operates.
“We want to further strengthen our financial position. With a record number of rides in all our markets, I see us on a good path to achieve this goal,” remarks Yang.
Currently, the company employs around 150 people around the globe and is planning to hire more in the upcoming weeks and months. “As we are expanding into new markets and double down on our innovation and customer experience, there is a great demand for new talent. We are currently hiring,” states Yang.
The German company operates a fleet of tens of thousands of e-scooters in major cities, including Milan, Rome, Seoul, and Tel Aviv.
“But we continuously analyse the landscape and scout new opportunities, so we do not rule out launching in entirely new markets in the future. Especially countries that will soon open up to e-scooters, such as Ireland, we are observing closely. So stay tuned; there will be more announcements soon,” concludes Yang.