Ride-hailing companies are beginning to make a shift from their primary business to win as many users as possible in the transportation market. Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi already gave us an insight a few months ago in an interview that the company was looking into innovating to lower cost services as a strategy to not only lure more users but to make Uber an everyday app in all regions of its operation. The innovated low cost is already here and the company believes that ride-hailing services would represent less than 50% of its business in the next decade.
Electric bicycles and scooters are the new lines of transportation and top-tier ride-hailing companies are channeling their fortunes considering the level of flexibility it offers users and the areas it could cover. Commuters in densely populated urban areas are discovering this form of transportation as a better option as the vehicle is smaller and specially designed to keep users on a steady move.
For a more swift entrance into the low-cost service, Uber teamed up with electric scooter rental company Lime two months ago after a multimillion-dollar acquisition of electric bicycle renting startup JUMP in April. The deal with Lime allows Uber users to rent scooters using the Uber app while JUMP enables its entry into the electric bicycle renting market.
Uber is not the only ride-hailing company that has noticed the advantages small EVs has over cars in urban areas.
Lyft launched its first electric bicycles and scooters in Denver on September 6 and expects to move into other cities before the year ends. With its low-cost service just coming up, Lyft has revealed plans to get a million cars off the road by 2019 end, identifying a move away from its primary business.
Taxify is not missing out on the new transportation business trend. It became the third company to offer electric scooters rental service in Paris, as Lyft was launching at Denver. The service branded “Bolt” has been added to the Taxify app and the company’s CEO and co-founder Markus Villig has said that he is expecting a switch to scooters by some of the company’s taxi customers, as the company hopes to withdraw some cars in the future. Taxify is also planning to launch the service in the UK and Australia in the next few months.
In March, Grab launched its bike-sharing services, GrabCycle in Southeast Asia and currently warming up to introduce electric scooters rental service as a new innovation arm to augment taxi rides. Go-Jek announced in July that the company was testing the economic feasibility of electric scooters against petrol-powered scooters.
While this may represent the strategies ride-hailing companies are adopting to expand their revenues, the economic impact and market disruptions are both factors that must be welcomed. Two major challenges recognized so far in the use of electric bicycles and scooters are the way users dump the EVs after use and how they are dragging roads with pedestrians. Do we have ways to permanently solve these challenges?