This week marks one year since e-scooters were legalized and hit the streets of Germany. Oh Voi, what a ride it has been!
On Midsummer’s Eve 2019, Voi was the first company to launch with e-scooters certified by the Federal Motor Transport Authority (Kraftfahrtbundesamt). Since then, millions of users have taken millions of Voi rides across 15 German cities, making a safe and sustainable transport choice to get to work, replace a taxi ride or get home in time for a family dinner. Germans really took Voi.schland to heart, and to celebrate that, we will be handing out one million free unlocks for one week to celebrate our first anniversary of many to come. From Saturday, June 20th, users all over Germany are able to get a free unlock by redeeming the code: FREEUNLOCK.
Investing in e-scooter safety and sustainability
Germany was quick to adapt its regulations to ensure traffic safety with higher vehicle standards than other markets had prior required. We launched with our second generation, certified Voiager 1 e-scooters, developed for the German market, and have since then invested heavily in continuing to develop and introduce even safer and more sustainable vehicles, that are now hitting the streets of Germany one city at a time.
Voiager 3X, our most sustainable scooter so far, has a lifespan of at least 24 months and is equipped with swappable battery technology – allowing for a 50% decrease in emissions connected to city operations as we only need to transport the batteries with lighter, electric vehicles. It’s also equipped with hydraulic dual motorcycle-grade suspension, triple-redundant brake system and a dual kickstand that prevents it from falling over. Read more about the features here.
Across German cities, our dedicated team has hosted 20+ Safety Popup-events where users were provided with more than 20K free helmets and taught how to ride Voi safely. We believe that educating our users is the best way to ensure our vehicles are used safely in traffic. That is why, in September 2019, we launched the world’s first digital traffic school for e-scooters – Ride Like Voila – where users are rewarded with free rides for passing the test. To date, more than 300K users have taken the traffic school.
Multi-modal partnerships: The future of urban mobility
At Voi, we envision cities made for living, free of noise, pollution and congestion, where people live longer, happier and healthier lives. E scooters alone cannot reach this vision, we need strong partnerships with policymakers, public transport and other sustainable mobility operators to create a seamless ecosystem of safe, sustainable urban transportation. With a larger variety of urban transport modes, we stand a bigger chance of getting people out of cars. According to a YouGov survey published by Politico, 68% of Europeans want to see air pollution reduction policies, including restrictions on car use in city centers, kept in place as mobility levels are going back to normal as cities are easing out of lockdown.
Our strategy is to stick to our core business, and focus on what we know, but to partner up with the best mobility operators out there to integrate effectively and individually.
In a collaboration with Hochbahn, Hamburg, we piloted e-scooters in the outskirts Berne and Poppenbüttel from July until December 2019. This partnership was the first of its kind on a global scale. In both cases, car parking spots were replaced with micro-mobility hubs and physical racks installed. By reaching more than 40.000 rides, 80% of our users confirmed to use e-scooters for commuting purposes. We can proudly share: having the right operational and regulatory model in place, e-scooters can serve as a last-mile solution in suburban areas. Vois still serve those districts – more to come in greater Hamburg area.
In Berlin, Hamburg and Munich, Voi’s scooters are now available to book both through the Voi app and through ride-hailing service FREE NOW’s app. Read more here.
In Berlin, Voi is officially a partner of the Jelbi app, powered by public transport company Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG). Jelbi is a MaaS application of mobility partners who want to shape Berlin together and make shared mobility as easy and versatile as possible for all Berliners. By integrating public transport with shared mobility services, Jelbi makes 14.500 vehicles available to its 100.000 users every day in one single app.
Overall, Voi is improving multimodality and access to public transport with more than 10 partners across Germany.
Working with policymakers to shape cities made for living
Our premise is to ensure that micro-mobility is implemented in the right way. Starting the dialogue with the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure in 2018 already, we could contribute to valid regulation of small electric vehicles (eKFV) early on. This has enabled us to set high safety standards for e-scooters – for now, and also, for future development.
To ensure this premise also with cities and other stakeholders our team traveled all over Germany to speak and engage in close collaboration before launching cities. This close-knit relationship with our cities has always been our best approach to integrating our service into the urban mobility mix. We believe that the best solutions are found when cities and operators work together – they are experts on their infrastructure, we are experts on micro-mobility. Together with our Voi cities we have helped co-shape policy in a number of ways in the past year:
- Co-creating of more than 25 letters of intent in Germany solely
- Co-creation of Memorandum of Understanding of Deutscher Städtetag and Deutscher Städte- und Gemeindebund in a joint effort with other players
- Sharing data for understanding local demand, adapting mobility strategies and establishing necessary infrastructure for micro-mobility
In honor of the European Mobility Week in September 2019, we hosted an in-official German launch event at the Swedish embassy in Berlin. We invited city officials and politicians to speak about their experience in the first few months with e-scooters, and presented Voi’s approach to safety and sustainability. During 2020, we’ve continued to deep-dive into these subjects through local and European webinars where city officials and other stakeholders are invited to hear about how rapidly our practices are improving. The first webinar, on sustainability, hosted over 100 stakeholders, walking them through the first-ever life-cycle assessment of European e-scooters, conducted independently by EY based on data provided by Voi. See the webinar here, and read more about EY’s report here.
Like in many other markets, parking has been a main challenge for this new transport mode. Together with many cities across the country, we decided to establish parking spots for micro-mobility, replacing car parking spots to speed up the Verkehrswende in Germany. After delivering our data to some cities, and drawing up concrete plans on where the parking spots could be located based on utilization, the first ones are being implemented as we speak in Berlin, Erlangen, Munich and Stuttgart. We are really happy to see that our city collaborations pay off and more and more parking spots for e-scooters will follow.
Voi’s response to Covid-19
In the midst of Covid, we proudly announced our official partnership with the #WeAllMove platform, alongside Wunder Mobility, Hertz, Allianz, and ShareNow. An open, online platform connecting mobility providers with workes of essential services, part of the World Economic Forum’s Global Covid Action Platform.
While we had to make the tough decision to pause our operations on the German market, Voi is now back in all but two cities and more focused than ever on supporting our communities with convenient, safe and sustainable transportation while still keeping social distancing. We have increased our hygiene protocol and are sanitizing the scooters on a daily basis – but still encourage our users to follow WHO guidelines for basic protective measures and wash their hands after riding Voi. And remember – keep distance and greet your fellow riders with a smile instead of a handshake!
To make our service accessible to more people, we have relaunched with bigger operational zones, a loyalty programme that makes Voi rides cheaper the more you ride, and around the corner awaits new pricing models that will make Voi the obvious choice for the most frequent riders. We can’t wait to tell you more about it…
Here’s to another year of Voi.schland. Happy midsummer!