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The year of two wheels: What awaits micro-mobility in 2023

 

By Kristjan Maruste, CEO and Head of Product at Äike

 

The global micro-mobility market is forecast to be worth £214.57bn by 2030, with e-scooters, in particular, gaining in popularity as more people turn towards sustainable modes of travel. The love for this kind of quick and easy transportation has been steadily on the rise, despite the initial impact of COVID-19.

However, over time the pandemic also brought the spotlight back onto bicycles and e-scooters, as people around the world took more time to consider the benefits of using other more congested modes of transportation. Moreover, the reduction in air pollution during lockdown highlighted a big problem of unsustainable transportation methods in cities, renewing calls for the UK government to fast-track e-scooter trials in a £250m boost.

Since then, the growth of the micromobility market has been dramatically rising, with e-bikes, e-mopeds and e-scooters winning over lots of commuters. With that in mind, let’s have a look at what we can expect to see across the industry in 2023.

At least one VC-backed ‘mega-sharing’ company will go bust

The initial e-scooter boom can mostly be attributed to VC-backed start-ups that focused more on pumping out products than on making these products sustainable and reliable. Large sales were seen as a sign of growth, despite none of them really thinking about the longevity of these vehicles and their business models. The average lifespan of an e-scooter, especially in the early days, was as little as a month, greatly damaging its position as a sustainable and zero-waste method of transportation.

With many people, especially Gen Z, focusing more on their carbon footprint, the companies built on this model will more than likely bite the dust. We will also see most remaining fleet operators make huge jumps to put out more durable, sustainable and safe vehicles, bringing immense benefits to commuters in cities around the globe.

Mobility subscriptions will skyrocket

Subscription services are not only reserved for streaming – just look at the success of Swapfiets in Europe, or Unagi in the US, which clearly show the subscription model is something modern city dwellers feel extremely comfortable with. 

With many people perhaps not able to afford to buy e-scooters or e-bikes out-right, subscriptions offer a reassuring and low-barrier-to-entry way for new users looking to make their way around busy urban streets. Besides, at the moment rental e-scooter services are the only way to legally ride this type of transport on public roads in the UK as the Government is trialling the scheme until autumn 2023.

Subscription services are also a great way to extend the lifetime of a vehicle and replace  car or diesel bus trips – a fantastic step for sustainability in LEVs. I’m looking forward to seeing many companies creating new and more innovative models to meet this increasing demand.

LEV utility vehicles will continue to rise in popularity

Despite the economic downturn and many companies slowing down their innovation budgets, LEVs are likely to weather the storm and continue to rise in popularity due to their effectiveness, sustainability promises, and cheaper maintenance when comparing them to combustion cars as a working tool. This will become especially prominent over the next few years, with the UK set to ban the sale of new conventional petrol and diesel vehicles.

This is further proven in the current numbers from the EU that show shrinking levels of car sales. However, I believe they should and will be replaced with alternatives such as cargo bikes, parcel delivery vehicles and other similar vehicles. As the logistics sector is facing a huge shift to decarbonisation, with sales of battery-powered EVs and plug-in hybrid vehicles expected to rise by 57%, it is highly unlikely for any of these companies to transition back into conventional cars or vans.

Increase in incentives to help people purchase electric bikes or cars

This trend is really high on my wishlist! A lot of governments and employers have quickly adopted grants and incentives to help people purchase electric cars, with that sector experiencing a dramatic boost in sales.

However, there is huge untapped potential to incentivise the use of e-bikes, e-scooters or any other micro mobility vehicle. This could be a huge factor in encouraging more people to make the transition to micro mobility, while caring for the environment, mental health and cleanliness of their communities. It also has the potential to encourage more workers to come back to offices, with commuting much less stressful.

There is a lot that needs to be done in order to encourage people to switch to this type of transportation though. More purpose-built infrastructure is needed to support e-scooter users, and more investment into areas that usually wouldn’t benefit from the use of LEVs. e-scooter companies also need to ensure their products are highly-sustainable and durable if they want to succeed at targeting all age groups.

2023 is undoubtedly a year for businesses, decision-makers and micro-mobility users to make a real change and put two wheels at the forefront of everyone’s minds.