Beep beep! Berlin flicked the switch on a new scooter rental on Wednesday, letting tourists and residents zip ‘round the city as they please. Registered users fire up an app, locate the closest pick-up point, pick out a scooter, and retrieve a helmet from the electronically locked compartment.
The service is powered by Gogoro’s Smartscooters and Bosch subsidiary Coup’s scooter sharing technology. Priced at just €3 (around $3.40) for 30 minutes, anyone older than 21 with a suitable driver’s license can rent a scooter by registering and booking through Coup’s app. And yes, that price includes insurance.
The scooter design has swappable batteries, but initially, users won’t be expected to do that themselves. Coup’s employees will swap the batteries of stationed vehicles — although emergency battery warnings are expected to be rare, as the scooters have a range of just under 50 miles. At launch, the service will have 200 scooters available, in the neighborhoods of Mitte, Prenzlauer Berg, Friedrichshain, and Kreuzberg.
The plan is just one of many ways cities are looking to provide easy-to-rent vehicles. London and New York are just two cities that have rolled out cycle rental offers, allowing anyone to hop on and off at a moment’s notice. Berlin’s system may seem a bit more involved, but these scooters won’t be whizzing off into the sunset. Their top speed is capped at 45 kph (around 28 mph).
The system also bears similarities to Zipcar, the car-sharing service, which already operates in Berlin and lets users reserve vehicles around the city from an app. Urs Rahne, head of launching Coup’s side of the business in Berlin, sees them as not consumer-friendly.
“The congestion, parking problems, replacement services and billing by the minute of current sharing services are not customer-centric,” Rahne said in a statement. “With the Gogoro Smartscooter and our Coup smart eScooter sharing, we are confident we are offering a new attractive mobility solution for Berlin.”
Berlin is not Gogoro’s first foray into the scooter rental business. That honor belongs to Taiwan, a country with the highest scooter density in the world. In Taiwan, the vast majority of scooters are not electric, making Gogoro stand out from the competition.
“Launching the Gogoro Smartscooter in Berlin as our first expansion market is special because it is a great two-wheel city and is also one of the most sophisticated, progressive and creative cities in the world,” said Horace Luke, co-founder and CEO of Gogoro.