”The cities and the operators are learning to co-exist”
On the biggest micro-mobility trends — and what’s next
August 30, 2023
Who are you?
— I’m based in Copenhagen. During my time there, we took momondo from being a Danish startup to becoming one of Europe’s top travel websites, culminated in its acquisition by booking.com in 2017. After that, I ventured into the electric car startup scene for a few years before embarking on a new venture, Cogo. We’re Europe’s largest shared mobility aggregator and include mobility operators such as Bolt, Tier, Donkey Republic and Lime. We have over 500,000 electric scooters, bikes, cars, and mopeds from 300 operators in 700 cities and 70 countries worldwide. Cities are responsible for around 75% of global resource consumption and nearly 20% of CO2 emissions stem from road traffic. Our focus is on encouraging people to opt for shared electric vehicles instead of personal cars, with the goal of reducing CO2 emissions and tackling issues like traffic congestion.
When you look at the industry, what major mobility and micro-mobility trends do you see?
— The cities and the operators are learning to co-exist. It was a bit of a wild wild west when companies started deploying large fleets of e-scooters on our streets a couple of years ago. Some cities like Copenhagen completely banned them, while others like Stockholm let them roam free. After many years of trial and error, we’re starting to see more tender processes that allow a certain number of operators to be active within a city, and provide clear guidelines on expectations and how we can integrate this newer form of mobility into existing infrastructure. It’s a win-win really. The government gets a handle on things, urban residents get convenient access to new mobility options, and the mobility companies get to help create more organised and harmonious cities.
We’re moving from hypergrowth to a profitability mindset. Shared mobility operators, particularly those focusing on e-scooters and bikes, have in the last 5 years or so experienced unprecedented growth and reaching all corners of the globe. This has been supported by institutional investors, who valued growth over profitability. We’re now seeing a shift in those priorities, and those who manage to turn towards profitability without sacrificing their on-the-ground operations will be the big winners.
Urban residents are asking for more. As more people realise the benefits of shared mobility they ask for better and more convenient experiences. While regulation of capping the number of mobility companies and vehicle fleet sizes is encouraged by the cities, it is at the same time harming the convenience and availability of vehicles for mobility users as they may not be parked nearby anymore. Also the number of operators, and available apps makes it a more complicated experience. In a survey from last year, 34% of respondents said that using multiple apps is a barrier to use. 84% stated in the same survey that they would use shared mobility more if they had access to all mobility options in one place.
And when we look at macro trends, what do you see coming?
Travel habits are changing. The pandemic has altered our mobility patterns. Remote work has reduced the daily commuters but it also highlighted the need for more adaptable and flexible transportation systems. We’re no longer just reliant on public transport, but flexible options such as shared e-scooters and bikes are more popular as they are less crowded and ’above ground’. Also, monthly travel cards are decreasing in demand as fewer people travel every day, so companies are forced to rethink their whole pricing structure and offerings around commuter cards.
Sustainability is getting more important. With increasing concerns about climate change, the push for more sustainable mobility solutions will continue. This includes not just electrification but also promoting public transit, shared mobility solutions, and active transportation to reduce the number of single-occupancy cars on the road.
Autonomous vehicles. A hot topic, and a divider if we’ll ever get there. While it’s still in development, we continue to move towards a world with autonomous or self-driving cars. California regulators just voted in mid-August to allow self-driving taxi services in San Francisco, a big win for the industry and could pave the way for more widespread adoption in the future.
For Cogo, what’s next?
— We recently rolled out our payment solution in Sweden, Germany, Denmark, Italy, and Spain, which has had an enormous impact on our businesses. We are currently live in around 200 cities, but there are over 800 cities with shared mobility in Europe alone and many more operators to integrate.