October 9, 2019

The week in mobility: scooter funding & regulation debate

Scooter startups raise even more money, while further regulatory crackdowns seem imminent in Paris. Plus a mysterious new micromobility vehicle is in the making.

Amy Lewin

2 min read

Scooter startups have once again stolen the headlines this week, but Bird and Tier's mega funding rounds aren't the only interesting things to have happened in the mobility sector. Here's our roundup of what's been going on:

1) It’s fundraising season for scooter startups

US-based Bird raised no less than $275m last week. It is now present in 23 European cities, from Poznan to Paris, and over 50 cities in the US. 

But quick to join the fundraising party was Berlin-based Tier Mobility, which announced a $60m round on Monday. Tier has been expanding fast in Europe, especially in Germany, where they legalised scooters this summer.


Also looking likely to announce fresh rounds of funding soon are Circ and Voi Technology, Europe’s other major scooter startups. Circ last raised €55m in Series A funding in January, while Voi raised $30m in March. This might not seem so long ago, but in the capital-intensive scooter battle money runs out pretty quickly. 

2) Scooter regulation is a big talking point in Paris

Parisians will elect a new mayor in March 2020 and rules around scooters are a hot topic on the campaign trail. The current mayor Anne Hidalgo has been cracking down on scooters in the city, which many residents see as a menace; there are now fines for riding on pavements and bad parking, speed limits and fees levied on scooter providers per vehicle. Many mayoral candidates are not fans of scooters either.

Meanwhile Marseille has announced the results of a tender to supply the city with scooters; Bird, Voi and Circ are the three lucky companies who successfully gained licenses to operate on the city's streets.

In other news: 

  • Swedish electric moped manufacturer Vässla is working on a secret new vehicle for bike lanes. "It's not a scooter, not a bike and not a moped — it's something else," Vässla's founder and chief executive Rickard Bröms told Breakit. Any guesses?
  • Milton Keynes, a town in the UK, hopes to be a testbed for e-scooters. It’s in discussions with the Department for Transport; e-scooters are currently illegal on public land in the UK. 
  • Volocopter, the German electric helicopter startup, will hold its first public flight in Singapore in October. It will also be showing off its “VoloPort” — i.e. landing pad.
  • Scooter startup Wind has launched a new model with a swappable battery. That is more exciting than it might sound; being able to swap batteries on the street — rather than pick up hundreds of scooters and take them to a charging point — is much more efficient. Unlike many of its competitors who use "juicers" (freelancers) to collect scooters with low batteries, Wind's internal operations team takes care of charging.
  • Bird launches in Luxembourg. The US scooter startup will launch in the Kirchberg business district with 360 vehicles.
  • Hundreds of Oktoberfest revellers have lost their driving licences after riding scooters while drunk. In Germany e-scooters are classed as motorised vehicles — so drink driving laws apply.

Amy Lewin

Amy Lewin is Sifted’s editor and cohost of Startup Europe — The Sifted Podcast , and writes Up Round, a weekly newsletter on VC. Follow her on X and LinkedIn