2021 was the year that micromobility as a concept, solution and way of life really started to take hold.
The rise in shared micromobility and COVID-powered public transportation has helped make small electric vehicles widespread enough that people decide to buy theirs. Therefore, 2021 was the year of the electric bicycle, with a 240% sales growth rate during the 12 months preceding July. This new normal has led cities to adopt infrastructure plans that would have been truly amazing a decade ago. (I’m looking at you Paris!).
2021 was also the year that people, especially city dwellers, began to speak openly about the impact of micromobility on reducing emissions, which is arguably more important than the advent of the electric car.
This year, we have seen shared micromobility companies really take advantage of this shift in mindset towards humble scooters and e-bikes, using their market dominance to become more operationally efficient and put their hardware to work. on point.
So, with all of that behind us, laying the groundwork for the future, let’s take a look at the best predictions for the micromobility space in 2022.
Electric bikes for everyone
The trend of e-bikes is expected to continue through 2022, especially as countries like the United States are now offering grants worth up to $ 900 on the purchase price of a new electric bicycle. But the craze will not stop with individuals. Tony Ho, Segway’s vice president of global business development, says the company is also seeing a surge in demand for e-bikes from micromobility companies. Segway is known to supply scooters and e-bikes to most of the shared micromobility giants, such as Lime and Bird.
“At first, Lime was a bike-sharing company, but it didn’t go anywhere until they started making scooters, in part because the scooter is cheaper and also easier to deploy.” Ho told TechCrunch. “Now it looks like the e-bike is gaining a lot of traction and we’re seeing the mix start to balance out and see a lot more controls on the e-bike side for sharing. And for cities, it’s a no-brainer because they have bike-sharing programs to start with.
The fresh money of the VC dries up
Some of the big players, like Bird and Helbiz, have gone public, which Lime has promised to do next year, and the industry has generally consolidated under a few big names. So instead of seeing more VC money and new entrants pouring in, we’ll likely see the current market mature.
“After all the Bird and Lime craze, I think investors have moved on to something different, like the Coco sidewalk robot delivery men,” Ho said. “It still takes quite a bit of capital to get started. this business, and the smaller ones, I personally think it’s going to be more difficult for them, especially because the cities require you to pay for the license, to buy insurance. It’s not really a game for the small startup anymore. Whoever survived the last wave will likely be here to stay.
And those who stay are doing all they can to reduce costs, become more efficient and sustainable, and be more compliant with city regulations.
But … carpooling companies could come back and play
“The orders and the interest we have gained show that many companies are coming back to play, so next year, as people come out of the pandemic, micromobility becomes a high priority on their agenda,” Ho said. “We’re seeing some companies coming back, including big names like the rideshare guys. “
During the summer of 2020, micromobility was in bad shape due to pandemic containments. Uber, for example, sold its micromobility company Jump to Lime, and greater integration between the two companies followed. In May of last year, Lyft also ended many of its fledgling electric scooter programs, but if Ho is to be believed, these two companies could try to get back into the game before losing any market share. .
Expect to see more AI, smarter vehicles
Cities really hate scooter riders to ride and park their vehicles on the sidewalk. They hate it so much, their hatred has driven many companies to innovate and create really smart scooters. Companies like Spin, Helbiz and Voi are already testing camera-based systems that can detect when a cyclist is traveling on a sidewalk or is about to collide with a pedestrian and even have the ability to stop the ride in real time. Others, like Superpedestrian and Bird, use a very precise location-based approach to implement similar advanced passenger assistance systems. Once businesses figure out how to cut costs and cities around the world have a taste of this fun technology, the trend will only become more widespread.
Mircromobility’s ADAS systems will expand beyond the shared market. Already, companies like Streetlogic and Terranet are working on producing computer vision-based systems that can help e-bike riders in the mainstream market to ride more safely by detecting potential dangers and providing warning notices. collision. These types of systems provide added peace of mind and security to the average person looking to replace car trips with electric bike rides.
Having additional sensors on micromobility vehicles also opens the door to data monetization for businesses, says Horace Dediu, an industry analyst who coined the term “micromobility”.
“We’re going to see more detection happening and that basically means dash cameras, so a lot of imagery is happening,” Dediu told TechCrunch. “I know it happens in cars, but everything that happens in cars happens on micro and often happens faster because you can deploy 100 million vehicles without that much investment.”
By placing cameras on the front and back of micromobility vehicles, companies can image entire cities the way dashboard cameras do today, Dediu said. If these systems can already detect sidewalks and pedestrian paths, they will surely be able to detect road surface conditions that could inform cities via a shared database on road maintenance issues. Or micromobility companies could sell this information to mapping companies like Google and give them a better picture of the world.
If you think about what else micromobility vehicles can do today, like torque sensors that measure user input, Dediu predicts that companies could offer all kinds of “Peloton-like services, too.” That attach to portable devices.
Micromobility and metaverse
“Billions have been invested by Meta or Facebook, by Microsoft and Apple, trying to figure out how to interact with someone who’s wearing something on their head,” Dediu said. “At the same time, when you look at micromobility, people are just saying we have to find a way to get people to wear helmets. So I just put those two ideas together and said, well if you are going to wear a helmet why not make it a smart headset? And if you wear a smart headset, why not make it so exciting and interesting that you’ll want to do it? “
A helmet with a smart visor that increases the reality of riding around a city could not only make cyclists more aware of their surroundings and potentially safer, but it can also unlock experiences and get people to get out and move, explains Dediu.
“Micromobility and the metaverse are made for each other,” he said. “It’s about looking up. Increasing a car experience is nothing more than becoming more isolated while looking down. So, do you prefer to look up or down? ”
Warning: This union might not happen in 2022, but Dediu is pretty sure it will somehow happen in the next few years.
New – heavier – form factors
The only problem with riding a scooter, e-bike, or moped to and from work every day is what happens if it rains? To address this issue and address different use cases, we might start to see new, more resilient closed-top form factors emerge in both consumer and shared markets, according to Oliver Bruce, strategic advisor, angel investor and co. -host of the Micromobility podcast with Horace Dediu.
Companies like Arcimoto, which recently acquired Tilting Motor Works, and Nimbus are working on tilting three-wheel electric vehicles that are expected to be ready or on the way to market in 2022, Bruce said.
“If we’re really going to meet our climate goals that we talked about at COP26, new electric vehicles will need to come out and evolve quickly,” Bruce told TechCrunch. “If we’re trying to develop electric vehicles as they are now, we’re really struggling to do that. We don’t have the capacity to do it.
Micromobility integrated into the transit mix
“I think 2022 will start to see the application of rides to public transport credit,” Bruce said. “So, for example, you will get off the metro and you can get on an electric bike and it will be a subsidized trip. “
Bruce says that this will in part be a side effect of all the infrastructure games we see with cities all over the world, but mainly in Europe, of the construction of more bike lanes. But it will also be a function of the micromobility companies which will drastically reduce the cost per kilometer of vehicle maintenance.
“The economy starts to pile up so that operators can sell miles to transport companies in bulk, and then those transport companies will say, cool, you can unlock the scooter on your metro card or through your app. Some cities around the world will start to include this in their public transportation. “
Better integrations with Maps
“2022, maybe the year after, will be the year of software,” Dediu said.
Today, transit planning and mapping apps like Google Maps and Moovit have started to incorporate micromobility options, giving users multiple ways to reach a destination. This type of integration should be strengthened to the point where Maps acts as a search engine, allowing you to see the best transport results in seconds.
“Today we say, I want to go from A to B, and you have three or four options, and no one is bidding on my ride,” Dediu said. “I want to see 15 bidders. I want to see an auction take place every time I request a ride, like Google search does. It’s so obvious that I’m shocked it’s almost 2022 and it doesn’t exist yet.
“But that’s largely because the glue isn’t there. The API interaction is not there, so once that happens on the shared side we should have a nice explosion of opportunities for shared operators to bid on Google Maps which should bring in a lot of money. to micromobility. The monetization of micromobility will therefore be achieved through discovery.