8 micromobility movers eyeing the Irish e-scooter market

28 Oct 2021

Image: © Bits and Splits/Stock.adobe.com

Here are some of the start-ups waiting to debut their e-scooters in Ireland once new legislation gives sharing services the green light.

Ireland is finally expected to legalise e-scooters on Irish roads in the coming months, a move that has been long awaited by local and international micromobility companies in an increasingly competitive space.

Other companies are also looking to get in on the action, such as taxi app Free Now which is planning to make the micromobility vehicles available through its app, and e-bike sharing service Bleeper which said it wants to expand into the e-scooter market.

Future Human

Here, we list some of the big players in micromobility revving their scooters in preparation for an Irish launch.

Voi

Voi is a Swedish e-scooter company that has been eyeing the Irish market for some time. After raising $85m in Series B funding in 2019, a company spokesperson told Siliconrepublic.com that Voi had been sharing insights on its operations with Irish transport officials about how e-scooter regulation in Ireland might work.

In July this year, Voi teamed up with Irish tech start-up Luna Systems to conduct a large-scale computer vision trial in Northampton, UK. The pilot programme was looking to explore the use of computer vision to keep pedestrians safe and scooters off footpaths.

Dott

Amsterdam-headquartered Dott was founded in 2018 and has become one of Europe’s big players in the micromobility space. As of April, it had more than 30,000 e-scooters in five countries, operating sharing schemes in Belgium, France, Germany, Italy and Poland. It was also one of three companies selected for e-scooter trials in London earlier this year.

Dott raised €70m in Series B investment in April to fund expansion into new markets, including Ireland. The round was led by Belgian investment company Sofina and growth equity investor Estari. The company has been eager for an Irish launch for some time, holding local consultations in Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Galway. It has also established an Irish Safety Advisory Board to improve its e-scooter services for visually impaired road users.

Zipp Mobility

This Irish micromobility start-up was founded in 2019 by Charlie Gleeson and is based out of the NovaUCD entrepreneurship centre at University College Dublin. Zipp recently closed a €1.3m funding round with backing from Balderton Capital founder Barry Maloney and Enterprise Ireland, bringing its total funding raised to more than €2m. The company operates its e-scooter sharing services across eight cities in the UK and Poland, and plans to begin operating in Ireland as soon as regulations allow.

Zipp recently said it’s in discussion with “a number of local authorities” in Ireland ahead of the introduction of e-scooter legislation and will use the newly raised capital to “significantly increase” the number of e-scooters it operates. Like Voi, Zipp also has a partnership with Luna to roll out smart e-scooters.

Tier

Tier is a German e-scooter player that cemented its position as one of Europe’s micromobility behemoths after raising $200m in Series D funding this week led by existing investors SoftBank Vision Fund 2 and Mubadala Capital. Valued at $2bn, Tier has raised a total of $660m in equity and debt funding to date. It has the widest e-scooter coverage of any company in Europe, according to market research firm Mobility Foresights.

The company has deployed 135,000 e-scooters, e-bikes and e-mopeds across 150 cities in 16 countries, but is eyeing further markets including Ireland. Last week, Tier was one of several micromobility companies that welcomed the news that the Government had taken another step towards the regulation of e-scooters on Irish roads. The German start-up is currently part of an e-scooter trial at Dublin City University.

Lime

This US company first started off as a bike hire start-up in San Francisco in 2017, under the name LimeBike, before shifting its attention to e-scooters. As the company has scaled rapidly in several global markets, it reintroduced bikes into its service. Last year, it also took over Jump, Uber’s e-bike arm, as part of a funding deal. In March this year, Lime announced it was investing $50m in e-bikes to expand its fleets to 25 new cities in 2021.

By 2019, Lime had established an office in Dublin, with not a single one of its scooters on Irish roads. Last week, the company told the Irish Times that it would invest €10m in its Irish operations to launch e-scooter and e-bike services.

Bird

Bird is another California-based e-scooter company that in June narrowed in on Ireland as one of its priority launch markets. It operates fleets in more than 250 cities globally and said earlier this year that it would invest $150m into expansion in the European e-scooter market. It planned to expand in 50 European locations, potentially including Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Galway.

European riders account for nearly half of its scooter trips globally, according to the company, with the pandemic leading to European users travelling on average more than 30pc longer on its e-scooters. Founder and CEO Travis VanderZanden had said Europe is playing a “leading role” in embracing micromobility electric vehicles and redesigning cities to promote their use.

Zeus

Irish-owned Zeus was launched in Germany in 2020 and has established e-scooter sharing services in around 30 European cities across Norway, Sweden, Germany and Italy. The company, founded by entrepreneur Damian Young, operates an office in Ireland for its European services. In July, it added 30 new jobs, with 15 in Ireland, as it expanded into the Nordic market.

In January, Zeus raised €2m in a funding round led by the former chief executive of Europcar Ireland, with plans to launch in more European markets and eventually in Ireland. Most recently, it launched in the Italian coastal town of Anzio.

Bolt

Bolt is an Estonian start-up that operates e-scooters, e-bikes, taxis, grocery delivery and car-sharing services. Based in Tallinn, it was founded in 2013 by Markus Villig, and was previously known as mTakso and Taxify. The company launched Bolt Drive, its car-sharing service along the lines of GoCar and Zipcar, in May. In August, it raised €600m in a Series E funding round led by Sequoia Capital, valuing it at €4bn.

Bolt launched its taxi-hailing app in Ireland in December 2020, competing with the likes of Free Now and Uber. In March, the company announced its intention to bring 10,000 e-scooters to the Irish market. Last week, the company’s new head of public policy, Aisling Dunne, said it is “in Ireland for the long haul and is ready to meet scooter demand” when legislation is passed.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic

editorial@siliconrepublic.com