Voi’s year in brief: through headwinds, tailwinds and massive growth

Dec 26, 2021

It’s safe to say that shared micromobility is here to stay. 2021 marked another rollercoaster year for Voi, in which we saw a massive growth of users, rides and cities we operate in. Bit by bit, our community of riders are reshaping urban mobility and enabling cities made for living.

This year, Voi surpassed 90 million total rides since its inception in 2018. We went from operating in 45 to the 76 cities we offer our service in today, and from just over 400 employees to nearly 1,000 people working at Voi across Europe. It’s safe to say that this year has been one of massive growth for Voi and shared micromobility.

It has now been a over three years since Voi put the first shared e-scooters on the streets of Stockholm – our home turf – with a vision to create cities made for living. Since then, more and more people have discovered this new way of travelling through the city – be it for work, school or leisure activities.

The exponential growth of users and rides shows there is a clear demand for shared micromobility. But with more scooters on the streets, we have also reminded of the challenges our industry faces around clutter and safety. Through sweat and tears, we have done everything in our power to solve these issues and will continue doing so.

With that said, we are super proud of what we have achieved this year through headwinds and tailwinds. We have worked relentlessly to deliver the best possible micromobility service out there.

So, here are some of our highlights and learnings from this year.

You have probably seen it before, but we want to show it again since we are super proud of it: Our Voiager 4.

January: Launching the most advanced e-scooter to date

We started 2021 by announcing our most advanced e-scooter to date. With the Voiager 4 we introduced a new standard for the industry with a safer, reliable and more sustainable vehicles. It included new safety features such as turn indicators, enabling riders to communicate to other roads users their intended manoeuvres, among many other features, and a much longer lifespan of over five years. Our repair teams have reported how the Voiager 4 is more reliable than previous e-scooter models, requiring significantly fewer repairs and spares parts since its introduction.

January also marked Voi becoming a multimodal operator by introducing e-bikes in the UK towns of Kettering, and Peterborough as well as in the iconic cycling city of Cambridge. Over the year, we have introduced bikes in more cities as we work to integrate with public transport networks and drive the shift away from unnecessary car trips by giving people more sustainable alternatives.

Psst… Don’t tell anyone, but our product development teams are working on some exciting new vehicles to be released in the coming months!

In June 2020, we placed our first parking racks for e-scooters on public grounds in Oslo. Research from the Norwegian Institute for Transport Economics shows that these racks positively impact parking behaviour.

February: Increasing the intelligence about e-scooter parking

Solving the issue of parking is an important part of helping shared micromobility to succeed across Europe and the UK. Over the years, Voi has participated in several trials and research projects aiming to learn smart ways to improve users’ parking behaviour. One of the more exciting projects is the parking study from the Norwegian Institute for Transport Economics, which we contributed to and launched together in a webinar.

The researchers found that implementing dedicated parking spaces positively affects parking behaviour and contributes to sorting street clutter. Over 50% of the e-scooter riders who ended their trips in the test areas parked in or near the parking solutions – meaning a physical parking rack of a painted area.

Voi is committed to solving the issue of poor parking and has made significant investments in infrastructure together with cities throughout the year. In Stockholm, we collaborated with the municipality to place more than 100 parking racks across the city and incentivised users to park responsibly by offering discounts to help improve rider behaviour.

Leave your car here and take a Voi instead. Mobility hubs enable sustainable and smart mobility choices by providing nodes with multimodal offerings.

March: Building mobility hubs with Jelbi in Berlin

When speaking about parking, those racks can be something more than just a place to store e-scooters. If parking spots are located in smart locations, like near public transport, then the opportunities for users to combine trips with different modes of transport increases. Amongst transportation professionals, this is a concept known as mobility hubs.

In March Voi started rolling out multimodal hubs in Berlin with our partner Jelbi, a mobility as a service (MaaS) platform connecting public transportation with other shared mobility services. By combining different mobility modes in a single app, and making them physically available at mobility hubs, the opportunity for people to adopt sustainable ways of travelling increases. In fact, our research showed that integrating Voi into the local public transport system helped increase train trips by 35% during the trial period.

Speaking about partnerships, we also launched a collaboration with the world-leading MaaS platform Trafi in March. With this partnership, our e-scooters became available through their multimodal app in cities such as Berlin, Munich, Basel, Bern and Zurich (just to name a few). Today, Voi has more than 40 public transport & MaaS partners globally to complement local mobility networks and enhance the availability of sustainable transport so more people can travel car-free.

Our Parking Photo feature has been trialled in several cities this year, and it has generated awe-inspiring results.

April: Starting trials for our Parking Photo feature and Parking Assistant process

Yes, we talk a lot about parking and that’s because we really care about solving the issues with clutter. While we invest a lot of time and money in physical parking stations, we still believe that the free-floating aspect of shared micromobility contributes to driving down car dependency in cities. A study from 6T, a French consultancy firm, showed that free-floating e-scooters had four times faster uptake than station-based bike-sharing systems.

This means we need to ensure all our users park responsibly, even when they can’t find a dedicated parking space nearby. In April, we started trialling our Parking Assistant feature which requires users to take and submit a Parking Photo of their parked scooter after each ride. Our user support teams then review the photos and educate, warn or even fine users who park irresponsibly. The Parking Assistant process has generated awe-inspiring results over the year.

In April we also launched our service in the iconic cities of Cologne, Düsseldorf and Frankfurt. Germany is increasingly becoming an important stronghold for Voi’s operations as we now operate our service in 16 cities across the country.

Did you know that cars take up to 50 % of public space in cities? We at Voi believe it’s time to redistribute space to make cities for living.

May: Committing to the 15-minute city movement

Did we say that our vision is to create cities made for living? We believe in the 15-minute city, the idea that you can access everything you need to carry out in your daily life within a quarter of an hour by walking, biking, taking public transport or a shared micromobility service. In May, we committed to this new paradigm for urban development by joining the 15-minute city movement.

Throughout the year we collaborated with architectural firms to reimagine public spaces, to visualise what they could look like if we redistribute space wasted by cars. Hornstull in Stockholm and Lark Lane in Liverpool are two out of the many streets in Europe that we have reimagined so far, and there are more exciting things to come!

We have also hosted a 15-minute city online summit, with speakers such as French scientist Carlos Moreno who coined the idea and is now leading Paris’ transformation to become a 15-minute city. Later this year, our co-founder and COO Douglas Stark held an inspirational keynote about 15-minute cities at Web Summit in Lisbon. You probably get it now: Voi believes in a future in which public space is dedicated to people instead of cars.

Safety is our number one priority. Our Safety Report gives readers a deep dive into the risks of shared micromobility and explains how we can reduce these risks.

June: Iterating our Vision Zero pledge with our Safety Report

Safety is one of those issues that every transportation company needs to consider. For Voi, it’s at the core of our product and service development. Shared micromobility has contributed to driving behavioural change, with more living in town and cities finding new and more sustainable ways to travel around. However, some of these users might not understand traffic rules, which means we need to help educate these riders on how to ride safely.

Safety is the number one priority for Voi. In June, we released our first annual safety report which explains our strategic approach to improving the experience of using micromobility. We talked with leading experts to determine the main causes of e-scooter accidents, and the risks posed to other road users. We later translated the report into seven additional languages to share this knowledge with as many as possible.

Another exciting development is our partnership with Danish State Railways (DSB) as we launched a pilot project to have our e-scooters at five train stations. This was in a bid to help make public transport an even more attractive alternative to the car by offering a convenient option for the first- and last-mile trips. The pilot project includes several big companies that strive to nudge their employees to leave their car home.

We returned to Spain at the peak of the summer when we experienced an exponential growth in users, rides and distances travelled by riders using our service across Europe.

July: Returning to Spain while our growth went through the roof

The summer of 2021 is the moment when we all learned that shared micromobility was here to stay with increases in users, rides and distance travelled going through the roof. Yet, this is still the start of an ongoing transformation of urban mobility in our towns and cities.

Following a couple of weeks of massive growth in rides, July saw a peak of almost 300,000 Voi trips in one day. The summer also saw Voi proudly return to Spain by launching our service in Malaga and Seville. We also launched in Turin in July. Later in the year, our service became available in the Italian cities Reggio Emilia and Modena. Viva España, viva l’Italia!

We also saw some exciting technological developments during this month when we launched a pilot project to provide our e-scooters with computer vision technology.

Another exciting thing in July is that we launched our roadmap for inclusive mobility. We want to tailor our service so that it can reach everyone and we are determined to double on our efforts to make micromobility accessible to all.

Happy Voiagers in Stockholm on Voi’s launch day, 25th of August 2018.

August: Celebrating our third anniversary with Day of Micromobility

On the 25 August 2018, a small Voi team put the first e-scooters on the streets of Stockholm as the first European micromobility operator. Three years later, Voi is now employing over a 1,000 people all over the UK and Europe.

We have pushed boundaries in this brand new industry and expanded our service to 76 cities. We’re building our service as we grow, with a goal to fast-forward the transition to 15-minute cities together with our riders and partners.

We are proud of what we have accomplished so far, and this is worth celebrating. Therefore, we decided to launch the Day of Micromobility to celebrate the ever-growing movement to replace cars with more sustainable transport. The day will take place annually on the 25 August from now on.

Also this month we joined forces with Google to enhance the accessibility of our service. This means that our vehicles are now displayed on Google Maps, allowing users to plan their trips more easily with the provision of prices, estimated times of arrival and how to reach their destination in combination with other modes of transport.

Psst…we are looking for more than 80 new Voiagers – check our job openings if you want to join one of the hottest start-ups in Europe!

Our underwater drone Voikala uses sensors to track e-scooters and rubbish that has ended up on the seafloor.

September: Entering the heart of Europe – and cleaning the sea

After successfully launching in more than 70 cities across Europe, we entered Brussels in September. Being at the heart of Europe means we now offer our service in 11 countries across the continent – and there is more to come.

We also co-organised a riverbank cleaning event in Turku with Finnish Keep the Archipelago Clean Association. We contributed with staffing and our little helper Voikala, an underwater drone that uses sensors to track e-scooters and rubbish that ends up in rivers. We do everything we can to prevent our vehicles from ending up in this way but, on the rare occasions that this happens, we are quick to respond and clean up our act. We have done similar events in Stockholm, Aarhus, and other cities across Europe, throughout the year.

2021 was the European Year of Rail, organised by the European Union to shine a light on the most sustainable long-distance transport mode. While we at Voi love micromobility, we are committed to ensuring that micromobility can enhance the accessibility of city rail services. Therefore we decided to contribute to the celebrations by offering free e-scooter rides to all train passengers in participating Voi cities.

Our beloved Marseille has chosen to continue our collaboration.We are energised more than ever to help increase access to sustainable mobility in this beautiful city.

October: Re-winning tender in Marseille

The saying goes that the first love is never forgotten, right? And the relationship between Voi and Marseille seems to capture this sentiment. Because Marseille was, in fact, the first city where Voi won a large multi-year tender. And in October, we were proud to have been chosen to continue our operations in this great city for another two years, making Marseille the first major city to reinstate its confidence in Voi after a long and productive collaboration.

October also marked our comeback to Copenhagen after the city had decided to pause all operations until a tender process for shared e-scooters was in place. We are delighted to have been chosen to collaborate with the city again to find a way for e-scooters to integrate into everyday life in one of the most environmentally conscious cities in Europe.

We also continued our efforts to make our service more inclusive by collaborating with Women in Transport on a research project to understand gender disparity in e-scooter usage. The research will allow Voi to take the necessary steps to address any existing challenges. On a more technical, but important note: we were proud to receive the “Micro-Mobility Standard” award by German DEKRA DIGITAL for our safety standards, after extensive testing by their experts.

Fredrik Hjelm, our CEO and co-founder, went to Glasgow to participate in an event on decarbonising transport organised by the International Transport Forum.

November: Pledging to replace one billion car trips

In November, we pledged to become climate positive by 2030 and go a step further than just being carbon neutral by saving more greenhouse gas emissions than we are generating. Our CEO and co-founder, Fredrik Hjelm, announced the new target while participating in a panel at COP26.

We intend to reach this climate positive target without buying offsets. Instead, we pledge to replace over one billion car journeys by the end of the decade. We have already seen a substantial modal shift, with our global data showing on average 16.3% of Voi trips replaced short car journeys in 2021. In the UK, almost 40% of the trips replace cars. This means we have helped replace more than nine million car trips over the last 12 months alone.

Users can now learn how their modal choice impacts the climate with our new Impact Dashboard, which was launched as an in-app feature in November.

The full potential for shared micromobility to replace car trips, and the need for people living in towns and cities to ditch their own personal vehicles, can only be reached when we integrate with public transport. Therefore we were happy about our special launch in Leipzig, in which we are heavily integrated with the local public transport operator Leipziger Verkehrsbetriebe.

In November, we also joined the International Association of Public Transport (UITP). Working in close collaboration with public transport providers is key in order for us to help create the cities that we envision for the future.

We are humbled and proud to have investors backing our vision to create cities made for living and supporting our mission to provide safe, sustainable and reliable micromobility for everyone. 

December: Raising capital to continue the Voiage to 15-minute cities

Just before Christmas, we announced that we had raised $115 million in an oversubscribed Series D round, taking the total capital raised in 2021 to $160 million. We can, therefore, continue growing our company to fast-forward a systemic shift towards 15-minute cities. We are humbled to have investors backing our vision to create a better future for our towns and cities.

The money will be used for expansion into new markets, new modes of transport and continuing our integration with public transport, among other exciting things coming up for Voi in 2022.

With that said, we are ready to close the book on 2021 and are looking forward to another joyful year together with our riders, cities, partners and other stakeholders.

One thing is for sure: succeeding with our mission to provide safe, sustainable and reliable micromobility for everyone will require more learning and collaborations with our riders and partners. By doing so, we strive to help transform urban areas and make our vision of creating cities made for living a reality. We are delighted to have you onboard on this Voiage.

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