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High gas prices? Try micromobility

By April 7, 2022No Comments

People in the micromobility industry wonder if this truly is a “micromobility moment.” As gas prices spike across the United States, the far cheaper electric scooter is getting its moment in the sun.

The demand for e-scooters and e-bikes has increased significantly since last year. One manufacturer told The Wall Street Journal that sales are 70 percent higher than March 2021, with another manufacturer reporting a 60 percent increase in sales. Another indicator is consumer interest. Website traffic for both companies was up about 30 percent since gas prices reached record highs in March.

E-scooters continue to rise in popularity

There is other anecdotal evidence that e-scooters are gaining the public’s attention. Online groups, like those hosted by Reddit and Facebook, have seen increased membership, according to The Wall Street Journal. One Facebook group grew from 1,000 to 38,000 members in 18 months and now features more than 12,000 posts and comments per day.

E-scooter company Bird says its app-based, pay-by-the-minute program in New York City has seen ridership increase by 70 percent in March vs. February.

Why micromobility vehicles are so popular

There are several reasons why micromobility vehicles are gaining popularity. The obvious one is the price of gas. The average price of gas was $4.18 on April 4. Western states and Illinois saw prices ranging from $4.41 to $5.85, the highest in the nation, according to AAA. One year ago, prices were $2.87.

While gas prices have declined from March highs, they are still relatively high in several states. The war in Ukraine and other geopolitical factors could cause prices to skyrocket again or continue to go up and down.

Compared to a scooter, gas-powered vehicles look widely more expensive. An e-scooter uses a kilowatt of energy to travel the same distance as two to three gallons of gas. But that kilowatt only costs about $50.

E-scooters can give you a different perspective on the commute, literally. While people may be switching to e-scooters because they are fed up with gas prices, they are also finding out how much easier it is to use a scooter in some cases. They get a better view of nature and don’t have to deal with bumper-to-bumper traffic or crowded mass transit vehicles and platforms.

Some people choose to use e-scooters to help them get to the mass transit commuting stations. E-scooters are easy to fold up and carry onto trains or buses. It can help get to the station in the morning and be used for “the last mile” at night. Some come with detachable seats and weigh under 50 pounds.

E-scooters are also relatively inexpensive, especially when considering how fast they can pay for themselves. For example, if an e-scooter costs about $500, it’s still easier than paying for gas, parking, and tolls for multiple trips, especially in urban areas. A basic e-scooter model starts at about $300, and each model has different features, including feel, suspension, miles it can travel per charge, and speed.

Google is giving them away

Google employees are returning to the office starting on April 4. The company was welcoming people back by offering them e-scooters that help with their commute to work. The scooters can travel at 20 mph and employees must sign up for a subscription service in which Google will reimburse them for the costs. Salesforce was offering a similar program.

What to look for in an e-scooter

Every situation may be different, but e-scooters are good for many scenarios. There are some critical features to look at as you decide to buy (or rent) one. It’s important to be comfortable with the handlebars, tires, and scooter deck. You’ll also want to consider the vehicle’s power, including miles per charge and speed. Safety is very important and when riding, you must make sure your e-scooter has good headlights, high beams, taillights, brake lights, breaks, and a bell.

Micromobility options for the commute

E-scooters and other micromobility vehicles are excellent commuting options for employees who want to try a different way of going to the office or are not ready to ride mass transit yet.

Companies and municipalities often have rental (or purchase) programs for people who want an e-scooter or other micromobility vehicles. Businesses can also put together a program that allows employees to use e-scooters or other vehicles as part of their benefits package.

Edenred can set up a prepaid card program for companies to rent vehicles. We can also provide exclusive deals and discounts with our third-party vendors when your company works with us.

Would you like to learn more about how micromobility can provide a better way for your employees to commute to work? Schedule a meeting with us so you can learn more about what we can offer to you.