Who would have thought the battle for electric scooter dominance could become so heated? Taxify, that’s who.
Parisian streets appear to be the battlefield and electric scooters the weapon as Uber’s major rival launches a fresh bid over American startups for dominance over the French capital.
The European ride-hailing firm is set to expand beyond private hire cars for the first time with its plan to launch an electric scooters hiring platform this week in Paris. While a step forward for the company, the plan may step on the toes of major Silicon Valley companies operating in the same field, namely Bird and Lime.
Taxify will operate their electric scooters under the name Bolt and offer customers a “dockless” service – meaning users can leave their scooters anywhere as they are tracked by GPS location. Bolt scooters will be available for hire around the city through Taxify’s main app, at a cost of €0.15 a minute. Taxify will then collect the scooters at the end of each day for maintenance and charging.
While electric scooters remain illegal in the United Kingdom, French road rules under the Highway Act of 1835 mean Paris has become a hotspot for electric scooter startups. Startups from the United States, including Bird and Lime, have raised large amounts of venture capital and successfully launched scooters in US cities before pushing into the European market.
Taxify chief executive officer Markus Villig did not seem phased by the competition, and said his firm has the advantage of 500,000 users already in the French capital.
“Currently we own all our scooters, but we have an ecosystem where we can plug in other providers,” Villig said to Business Insider. “At the end of the day, our goal is to be a transportation provider… giving passengers as many options as we can.
“The journey should start with ‘Where do you want to go?’ and we then offer them a range of options. But we don’t have to do it all ourselves.”
Interestingly enough, Uber has also started to make moves into areas other than ride-sharing and have struck a partnership with Lime.
Villig said he was in the process of lobbying the United Kingdom for a rule change around electric scooters on the road – a move which Bird and Lime have also signaled.