Scooter craze is big business


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After announcing last April that it will virtually abandon production of cars in North America by 2020, the Ford Motor Co. has spent $100 million to buy Spin, an electric scooter-sharing company.

Spin operates in 13 U.S. cities and on several college campuses. Its scooters rent for $1 a trip plus 13 cents a minute.

In 2017, electric scooter-rental services quietly and unannounced began showing up in cities, especially those with universities worldwide.

These services allow riders to locate and unlock scooters with an app. When they reach their destination, they just walk away.

Ford will inject capital into Spin so it can compete with scooter heavyweights Bird and Lime, which have angered municipal officials by entering cities without notice and complicating traffic. In contrast, Ford says Spin will “work hand-in-hand” with cities and campuses and not enter a jurisdiction without permission.

Ride-hailing leaders Uber, Lyft and Alphabet – Google’s holding company – also have bought heavily into the e-scooter industry.

Moving with the trend, German carmakers Daimler and BMW have announced their collaboration around “urban mobility” – a term under which the companies are lumping car sharing, ride hailing, and sniffing out parking spots and e-charging stations, all available through a single app. TJ  


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Ford has seen the future of personal transport and it looks more like an e-scooter than like a four-door sedan. Young adults increasingly see mobility as a service to rent, not a car sitting in the garage. For city dwellers who do buy, they’ll be increasingly likely to choose an electric scooter or hoverboard, such as the Swagtron’s Swagboard, instead of a vehicle that costs more than their parents’ first house.

More auto makers will follow the trend and reconceive personal transport outside the four-wheel box.

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