Flying high: Bird plans e-scooter expansion in Europe

16 Mar 2021

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The company is investing $150m to expand in more than 50 European locations, including Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Galway.

Micromobility company Bird is planning to launch in more than 50 new locations in Europe, including a number of spots around Ireland.

The Californian e-scooter company is investing $150m in the European expansion and said it will use the funds to open micromobility programmes, create new mobility products and safety initiatives, and implement “the next generation of recycling”.

In a blog post, Bird said European riders account for nearly half of its scooter trips globally. “Since the pandemic they’ve been travelling on average more than 30pc longer on our e-scooters,” it added.

The company’s founder and CEO, Travis VanderZanden, said Europe is playing a “leading role” in embracing micromobility electric vehicles and redesigning cities to promote their use.

“We’re committed to working with cities to advance these incredibly positive initiatives by investing in the technology, as well as the safety, equity and sustainability programmes, that will usher in the next generation of clean urban mobility across the continent,” he said.

The 50 new European locations include a number of places in Ireland. The company said it hopes to be operational in Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Galway, as well as smaller cities and towns throughout the country.

‘Micromobility use will be absolutely critical as we slowly lift pandemic restrictions’

As part of the expansion, Bird has also made a number of appointments to its executive team. This includes Irishman Brendan O’Driscoll, who has taken up the role of head of product, growth and data.

O’Driscoll previously worked as head of product at Spotify after his start-up Soundwave was acquired by the music streaming giant in 2016. He will now oversee Bird’s global product strategy and implementation.

“I’ve been excited for years about the prospect of helping to bring Bird and shared micromobility home to Ireland,” said O’Driscoll.

“Once legislation is passed in Ireland, promoting e-scooter access and encouraging routine micromobility use will be absolutely critical as we slowly lift pandemic restrictions and businesses begin to reopen.”

Already in 2021, Bird has expanded its services in the UK and partnered with France’s national rail company, allowing riders to access trains, taxis, bikes and Bird e-scooters.

As Bird plans its expansion, legislation to allow e-scooters to operate on Irish roads is imminent. In February, the Government approved plans to draft legislation that will categorise e-scooters as ‘powered personal transporters’.

Ahead of this expected legislative change, several micromobility players have already made plans to get their foot in the Irish market.

Dutch e-scooter company Dott said it plans to carry out local consultations in Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Galway, while Estonian company Bolt hopes to launch 10,000 of its e-scooters in Ireland. Last week, taxi app Free Now said it aims to make micromobility vehicles available through its app in partnership with Germany e-scooter company Tier.

Irish players BleeperZipp Mobility and Zeus are also readying their own plans to launch once legislation is passed.

Jenny Darmody is the editor of Silicon Republic