Voi’s Empire State of Mind: Why we’ll be right at home in New York City

Dec 1, 2020

Voi has grown in leaps and bounds since our 2018 launch in Sweden. We cut our teeth in Europe’s capital cities — from Stockholm to Berlin, Oslo to Rome — where we mastered the art of operating big fleets in dense, transit-rich environments. Our riders have taken our coral-coloured e-scooters on more than 30 million rides across Europe, travelling over 41 million kilometres (~25.5 million miles) —that’s the equivalent of circling the Earth 1,025 times!

We’re on a mission to create cities for living by reducing car dependence, and we hope to soon join ABBA, Pippi Longstocking, Ikea, and Vision Zero as the next hot Swedish exports to NYC. (After all, didn’t Andy Warhol quip that “success is an e-scooter fleet in New York”?)

From bagels to bodegas, New Yorkers have high standards — and so do we. We’ll offer Gotham a high-quality, low-stress service that helps people move better without annoying their neighbours —because the sidewalks are crowded enough already!

Here’s what we can bring to the City That Never Sleeps:

We build long-term relationships.

From the beginning, we’ve partnered with transport agencies, government officials, and sustainable transport advocates to ensure our service integrates into the existing transit system and provides more flexible options for all city residents. We’ve never launched without city permission — frankly, that’s unheard of in Europe. We collaborate closely with local government and community stakeholders to customize our service. For example, we have weekly meetings — tea dates, actually — with local councils in each of our new U.K. markets to review trip patterns and goals, and to make sure we’re helping to close the last-mile gap and reduce pollution and congestion. We hire full-time local employees, provide opportunity for advancement, and always pay a living wage. (In New York, we expect our meetings would include coffee instead of tea. That’s cool—have you heard of fika?)

We protect the sidewalk.

We start small and grow slowly, increasing the size of our fleets and service areas in accordance with demand to avoid sidewalk clutter. For instance, our new permit in and around Birmingham, England, allows for 10,000 scooters, but we started with just 100 to ease in. We pioneered the use of parking racks, which we combine with virtual parking corrals and a next-gen scooter IoT that’s accurate to one meter to protect public spaces.

We’re carbon neutral.

We were the first e-scooter company with carbon-neutral operations. We’re all-in on electric vehicles, including our operations fleets. Our e-scooters have swappable batteries that are exchanged using e-cargo bikes to avoid the congestion and carbon emissions of daily vehicle collection. With this and other initiatives, we’ve reduced lifecycle emissions by 85% in two years.

We want to make sustainable transport more convenient than a car.

Voi has created transit partnerships in more than half our markets, making it seamless to combine a Voi ride with the bus or train. We have academic research partnerships with leading universities; together, we help to inform how we can prepare cities for greater micro-mobility uptake. We know that e-scooters are just part of the solution; we’ll soon launch our first Voi e-bikes in Cambridge, Kettering, and Peterborough.

We keep everyone who shares the road safe.

The safety of our riders and all other road users is at the core of everything we do. It’s our number-one priority. We combine education, enforcement, technological solutions, and investment in infrastructure to keep everyone safe. The needs of vulnerable road users, such as children, the elderly, and the visually impaired, are top of mind. That’s why we take the time to collaborate with groups representing vulnerable populations to make sure their needs and concerns are taken into account when we’re launching our operations.

Our safety innovations include:

  • world’s first online traffic school, #RideLikeVoila

  • number plates on all e-scooters to make it easy to identify and report rogue riders

  • on-the-ground Voi ambassadors to better manage scooter activity and educate riders, particularly about parking; and

  • in-app products, such as a reaction test to discourage drunk riding.

With partner Luna Systems, we’re also trialing a new Computer Vision pedestrian detection technology with hyper-accurate next-generation GPS (to 5 to 10 cm) in Northampton; this enables the scooters to “see” pedestrians and orient themselves on roadways and cycle paths instead of sidewalks.

We listen and we co-create.

All Voi staff complete a training from U.K.-based Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) on how to keep sidewalks safe for vulnerable road users, and we host socially distant and virtual feedback sessions with citizens and community groups wherever we

operate. We combine our operations smarts with hardware experts, such as Segway and Samsung, to deploy the safest and most city-friendly micro-mobility offering out there.

When New York is ready, we look forward to scooting across the pond (metaphorically, of course) and offering an efficient, affordable, socially distant, and green mode of transportation to America. We’ll be there in a New York minute!

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