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September 26, 2023

ūüĒ• China‚Äôs Battery Fire Problem

Plus: How the FDNY Is Fighting Back Against This Deadly Crisis


What You Need to Know This Week

Sales of unregulated electric bikes are surging in China, and as a result,¬†so are battery fires.¬†‚ÄúAccording to the China Bicycle Association, around 50 million ebikes were sold across the country in 2022. And in all, at least 350 million ebikes have been registered‚Ķ but mishaps have surged, too. According to China‚Äôs National Fire and Rescue Administration, in the first half of 2022, a total of 8,370 e-bike fire cases were reported, up 31.3% compared to the previous year.‚ÄĚ

All over the world, large cities are bearing the brunt of this deadly crisis, but perhaps nowhere more than New York City, where the number of fires caused by faulty batteries has increased 7x since 2019. On the latest episode of the Ride On! podcast, James talks to FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanagh about why li-ion batteries are catching fire and how cities can minimize the risk. 

Don’t miss Commissioner Kavanagh at Micromobility America next month, where she’ll address how firefighters are responding to the recent wave of battery fires with new prevention strategies (check out the full schedule here).

Ola Electric may be going public sooner than expected. The Indian market leader in electric moped sales is reportedly planning to file an IPO of up to $700M by the end of October.

Meanwhile EV sales in India hit the 1M mark in less than nine months in 2023, a milestone that took an entire year in 2022. Two-wheelers made up 56% of the units sold, followed by three-wheelers and passenger vehicles.

Since the pandemic, Americans are commuting less and taking more short trips, the kind of quick jaunts that are perfectly suited for micromobility modes.¬†According to a Brookings Institute analysis, ‚Äúpeople have generally substituted longer commutes for shorter but more frequent trips to eat, shop, and run errands.‚ÄĚ

… so it’s no surprise that bike trips have soared since the pandemic. According to smartphone data, Americans took 37% more bike trips in 2022 than 2019. 

Credit: Bloomberg/CityLab

BMW has issued an immediate stop-sale order on all gas-powered motorcycles in the U.S as part of its commitment to accelerating the EV transition. 

Swapfiets continues to struggle to make the subscription micromobility model work financially. After a shortfall of ‚ā¨14M in 2020 and ‚ā¨29M in 2021,¬†the Pon-owned startup‚Äôs losses grew to ‚ā¨31M last year.

If there’s one thing parents hate, it’s long lines to pick up or drop off their kids at school. These days only 1 in 10 American children bike or walk to school, contributing to the car line chaos (and a host of other social problems). 

Mottu, a Latin American logistics company that rents motorcycles to independent delivery workers, has raised $50M in Series C funds to fuel expansion within its current geographies, Brazil and Mexico. 

Elsewhere in funding news: Dutch mobility startup Scoozy raised $1.59M in its latest investment round, which will go towards the development of small EVs for people with reduced mobility. 

Electric bike subsidies continue to roll in. The next city on our list is Washington D.C., which recently approved a bill allocating $500,000 for a new incentive program. Lower-income residents will be eligible for varying vouchers to purchase and maintain ebikes, some of which reach up to $2,000.

And these rebates don’t just benefit city dwellers. Colorado recently began distributing ebike vouchers statewide and found the program has made a big difference in rural towns with limited public transit. 

Here‚Äôs one truck we wouldn‚Äôt hate to see driving in the cycle path. The City of Seattle is rolling out¬†an electric bike-lane sweeper, ‚Äúa compact vehicle barely 5 feet wide and designed to weave between bollards and curbs to suck up the leaves and rocks that can impede cyclists.‚ÄĚ

Is the future of bikeshare all-electric? Detroit’s nonprofit service, MoGo, says its electric bikes are ridden three times more than its standard bikes. 

Speaking of bikeshare, here’s an interesting one: Pittsburgh is launching a rental fleet of adaptive bikes, including a recumbent bike, tandem bike, a front-loading cargo bike, and a hand tricycle, with funding from AARP. 

Trek announced a recall of all Allant+ 7 models equipped with Tektro brakes, citing risk of a possible brake hose issue which could pose a safety risk to users. This is Trek’s second recall this year. It also mirrors a similar braking issue faced by Lectric earlier this month.

According to Vox, the typical delivery van in London is more than half empty at any given time. By contrast, electric cargo bikes waste less road space, cause less accidents, and emit fewer emissions. 

Dubai announced it will host a new electric scooter racing event that will showcase the world’s fastest standing electric scooters. The Dubai Electric Scooter Cup will see vehicles reach a speed of up to 87 mph (140 kph). 

Shared micromobility operator Bird is acquiring Spin from Tier for $19M, a move that Bird hopes will add immediate growth to its earnings as it attempt to reach profitability. 

Unfortunately for Bird the news of the acquisition was not enough to prevent its stock from being de-listed from the New York Stock Exchange. The company is being removed for its failure to maintain a market capitalization above $15M for 30 consecutive days. Bird’s trades will now occur over the counter.

Purolator, the Canadian logistics company owned by Canada Post, is testing electric cargo trikes, made by Trivel, for urban deliveries in Ottawa and other cities.

Swiss ebike maker Flyer is laying off 80 employees, or roughly a quarter of its staff, as a result of declining in sales since 2020-2021.

Electric bike safety is a big issue in California right now, but some worry the real concern is auto speed limits. In California, speed limits are set by the 85th percentile rule (meaning that the speed limit for a street is determined by the speed 85% of drivers are driving at or below), a method which caters to drivers rather than vulnerable road users.

To enhance safety for micromobility users, cities from Arkansas to Spain are employing a new risk-assessment software called CycleRAP to identify high-risk locations and aid urban planners in preventing collisions by improving cycling infrastructure.

Delivery app Glovo is piloting a battery swapping project for its couriers in Bucharest through a partnership with E-Mobility Rentals.

New legislation in Ireland confirms that electric scooters and bikes can be ridden in the bike lane without registration plates, just like acoustic bikes. 

Appealing to mountain bikers, ski resorts in Italy are preparing for a future with less snow.

Get ready Denver: The next round of applications for city ebike rebates, worth up to $1,400 in savings, opens today. 


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