Uber Plans to ‘Double Down’ on Bikes and Scooters Chiefly in Europe

According to an executive, Uber plans to “double down” on its investment into electric bikes and scooters in 2020, with a major focus on Europe.

Last year, Uber acquired Jump, a bike-sharing service based in the US, taking its chances on growth in the so-called “micromobility” space. Since then, the firm has rolled out the Jump’s two-wheelers internationally, while concentrating more on European cities.

“We want to double down on micromobility,” Christian Freese, Jump’s head of EMEA, said in an interview. “We have seen how beautifully it works with our core business and ride-sharing, and want to invest more and deeper, especially in Europe”.

Uber confirmed that the adoption of Jump’s bikes and scooters in Europe has surpassed that of the US in the last eight months. It claims that more than 500,000 Europeans rode the vehicles in the last eight months alone, summing up 5 million trips in total.

It is a hit in Paris, followed by Sacramento and Seattle. However, the firm didn’t provide data on how many US users took rides using Jump. However, those vehicles have also faced regulatory problems in both the U.S. and countries in Europe. Officials are uneasy about how some of them registered unusually high speeds and were left abandoned by rivers or on streets. France recently launched tougher rules for e-scooters, while in Britain it is still not legal to ride an e-scooter.

Uber’s priority in Europe will be to focus on strengthening its presence in existing markets like London, where it launched e-bikes earlier this year. The U.K. capital is already awash with bike-rental schemes, but the firm said it aims to broaden its reach there, with plans to launch in the London borough of Hackney next year following initial rollouts in Islington and Camden.

London is a crucial market for the ride-hailing giant. But the company’s future there has looked more dubious after the decision by the local transport authority not to renew its operator’s license. However, Uber is appealing the decision, and can still operate while that process takes place.

Freese said Uber is in talks with the authorities in the U.K. and elsewhere in Europe about how it can look to operate its scooters, pointing the safety issues that would accompany them.

“When we are thinking about bringing a product to a market, especially a product like scooters, we are working very closely with local officials,” he said, adding the company has had “very fruitful discussions in the U.K.”

Uber plans to add a new mode of transport, electric mopeds, to its collection for the first time. The company was set to launch the mopeds in Paris, in partnership with local operator Cityscoot, but this was deferred due to a product integration issue. Freese said the company would look to launch the mopeds in the French capital in the first quarter of 2020.

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