Micro-mobility firm Tier Mobility is braced to launch in the UK’s nascent electric scooter rental market as the government prepares to make an announcement on e-scooter trials later today.
The German firm says it has more than 1,000 e-scooters in its UK warehouse that are ready to be deployed. Like rival micro-mobility firms, the e-scooters can be unlocked using a mobile phone app and rented by the minute.
E-scooters are currently legal to buy in the UK but illegal to ride on the road or pavement. In May the Department for Transport said it was looking to fast track e-scooter trials as part of a sustainable transport push. E-scooters have also been touted as a means for commuters to avoid crowded public transport during the coronavirus pandemic.
These trials – which do not extend to privately owned e-scooters at this stage – are widely expected to get underway today. The government is also reviewing the regulations around rental e-scooters and carrying out an inquiry into the viability of having them on UK streets.
Tier Mobility scoops senior Uber staff
On Monday, Tier Mobility announced two big-name hires from Uber as it geared up for a UK launch. Fred Jones, formerly Uber’s general manager of UK and Ireland, will become Tier’s UK general manager. Benjamin Bell previously headed up Uber’s public policy and has joined Tier as head of public policy for Northern Europe.
“The arrival of e-scooters was rightly fast-tracked in the wake of Covid-19,” said Bell.
“By providing safe, green transport for millions of people, they can play a crucial role in getting the UK back to work. TIER is already a partner to governments across Europe and we look forward to building lasting relationships in the UK and beyond.”
Tier is understood to be working closely with the government on UK e-scooter trials. The firm, launched in 2018, operates in over 20 cities across nine countries: Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and UAE. Its 40,000 e-scooters have completed 20 million rides by three million commuters, according to Tier’s own figures.
Tier will make helmets available as part of the rental process, which may smooth the process with regulators. It also claims that its design – a bigger front wheel, wider footplate and double kickstand – improves safety.
The startup says it has 20% of the global rental e-scooter market, but it will not be alone in the battle for Britain’s micro-mobility network. US firms Bird and Lime are also eyeing a move into the UK’s untapped market. Swedish micro-mobility startup Voi is also reportedly in talks with the UK government to seek permission to test its e-scooters.
Lime may be at an advantage because it already offers e-bike rental schemes across the country. Meanwhile riders have been using Bird e-scooters on private land in London’s Olympic Park as part of a trial, which may work in the startup’s favour.