Segway-Ninebot Group, a Beijing-based manufacturer of electric scooters, rolled into Los Angeles this week hoping to bolster its position as the main supplier for a new wave of well-funded scooter-rental startups and offer a peek at new battery-powered transit products.
This is the summer of the electric scooter. Which is to also say, it is the summer of chaos.
Have a Go
20 years ago, the original self-balancing Segway was billed as the future of urban mobility. Soon after launch though, it proved a resounding flop, failing to amount to much of anything other than becoming a trademark of mall cops everywhere and fodder for late night comedians. But with e-bike and e-scooter sharing, little electric vehicles are back with a vengeance.
This past spring, my hometown of San Francisco was invaded by electric scooters--thousands of them, all on the streets at the same time. It seems three companies--Spin, LimeBike, and Bird--had simultaneously decided to make the city a test site for their transportation revolution, and didn't wait to ask for permission, according to city officials.
When the history of the great micromobility wars of 2018 is written, readers will quickly notice a cycle repeating itself. Companies, unbeknownst to city officials, add dockless bikes or scooters to streets and sidewalks.