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August 15, 2023

⛳️ Golf Carts Aren't Just for Country Clubs Anymore

Plus, San Francisco welcomes robotaxis over cyclist rancor.


By Micromobility Industries

What You Need to Know Today

Last week the California Public Utilities Commission voted in favor of allowing Waymo and Cruise, two robotaxi companies, to operate their self-driving vehicles 24/7 in San Francisco. In an exemplary case of politics making strange bedfellows, many bike groups sided with AV opponents against the proposal, despite the fact that cyclist and pedestrian fatalities are on the rise and evidence shows that self-driving cars can reduce accidents. The decision opens the door for more autonomous vehicles in the city.

On the latest episode of Ride On, James and Julia talk to Keith Simon of Waev, a company that makes an eclectic lineup small, semi-enclosed EVs, about why neighborhood electric vehicles (or “golf carts,” in layman's terms) aren’t just for the country club anymore.

Indeed, electric golf carts are being used as “second cars” by a growing number of American families. These tiny chariots offer numerous advantages over larger, full-speed cars, including being safer, cleaner, more affordable, and easier to park. 

Is shared micromobiltiy on the rebound? The number of cities in Europe with a fleet of some sort leapt by more than 30% between the start of 2022 and the second half of 2023. 

Similarly, NABSA just released its fourth annual Shared Micromobility State of the Industry Report for North America, which finds that ridership in North America has returned to pre-pandemic levels with 157 million trips taken in 2022. The number of vehicles on the road, however, is much higher now, suggesting the trips per vehicle is down. 

Bucking the trend, Bird’s Q2 numbers show that the scooter sharer generated less revenue (-29%) and fewer rides (-39%), year-over-year, although it was able to significantly trim costs. The company has appointed a new interim CEO, Michael Washinushi, in an effort to turn things around. 

Polana Bikes is opening a new factory in Poland, with backing from Chinese electronics maker NKI, which will be capable of producing 80,000 ebikes per year once complete. 

Shared micromobility operator Veo announced last week it will enter the retail space and begin selling the Cosmo X, a seated, pedal-less scooter, directly to consumers. For $3,499, the Cosmo X is definitely on the premium end of the sit-down scooter spectrum. Veo is taking it slow to start, aiming to sell just 1,000 scooters in 2023. 

Electric bikes were a rare bright spot in Giant’s H1 report. Even as the tier 1 bike manufacturer’s revenue slipped 5.4%, year-over-year, ebike sales increased 6%, supplying more than one-third of total earnings. 

Dublin announced a series of new programs to encourage the use of electric cargo bikes, including subsidies for business and non-profits as well as free-short term rentals for the public.

Could wider, higher-capacity cargo bikes soon become a fixture of New York City’s delivery scene? The local Department of Transportation is proposing a new rule that would allow pedal-assist electric cargo bikes with four wheels and a 48-inch-wide hold (about the same width as a golf cart), upping the specs from the current three-wheel, 36-inch requirement. 

Despite tailwinds in cities like New York and Dublin, Austrian electric cargo bike maker GLEAM is filing for bankruptcy. During more than 10 years in business, the company focused on providing cargo solutions primarily for businesses and developing tilting technology for vehicles. 

Maka Motors, an Indonesian startup, is going to start manufacturing EV motorcycles in 2024. Indonesia is the third largest motorcycle market in the world and the majority of its bikes come from Chinese manufacturers. Maka Motors wants to introduce high-quality bikes that have more cargo space and power than Chinese competitors.

EV brand Strom announced it will build a new motorcycle plant in Thailand. Strom, one of the most prominent EV manufacturers in the country, anticipates the new factory will allow it to expand throughout Asia and boost sales by 30%.

Colorado is launcing an ebike rebate program this week. Starting tomorrow, Coloradans who meet the state’s income requirements can enter into a lottery to receive a voucher of up to $1,750. 

Riese & Muller is saying goodbye to cardboard packaging and instead delivering ebikes in reusable packaging made of polypropylene and sealed using Velcro. 

Why is The New York Times (and other legacy media) so quick to attack the rider every time a car hits an ebike? James talks to journalist Micah Toll about the all-too-common urge to blame the victim in a car crash on a special mini episode. 


Jobs to Be Done

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