Opportunity for local shared mobility solutions as Bird and Micromobility.com struggle to turn a profit

Shared mobility companies Bird and Micromobility.com (formerly Helbiz) stormed onto the scene by introducing innovative and convenient transportation solutions, capturing the attention of urban dwellers worldwide. 

However, as the micromobility industry enters a more mature phase, companies like Bird and Micromobility.com continue to grapple with obstacles when it comes to attaining financial stability. This has prompted them to reassess their excessively ambitious expansion strategies. 

What factors contribute to these challenges, and what implications does this hold for the industry as a whole? Could local micromobility ventures provide a superior solution to meet the increasing demand for these services? Let's delve further into the financial predicament of Bird and Micromobility.com to gain a better understanding.

Bird: downsizing and struggles in the stock market

Established in 2017, Bird is a micromobility company that provides electric transportation solutions in the USA and Europe. Their range of shared vehicles includes e-scooters and e-bikes. The company also sells vehicles to distributors, retailers, and direct customers. With its headquarters located in Miami, Florida, Bird currently employs 425 individuals and operates in 105 cities. 

Recently, Bird's first-quarter 2023 financials revealed challenges in maintaining ridership and revenue. Despite implementing cost-cutting measures, the company's performance failed to convince investors of its ability to achieve profitability – the company's stock plummeted nearly 19% after announcing its first-quarter earnings.

In 2022, Bird faced a challenging year. The company announced plans to completely exit Germany, Sweden, and Norway, as well as wind down operations in numerous other markets, primarily small to mid-sized, across the U.S., Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. They also reduced their staff by 23%.

Despite a positive revenue increase of 12.06% in 2022, the company faced substantial losses totaling $358.74 million, marking a significant 66.9% increase compared to 2021. The challenges continued in 2023 as Bird witnessed a decline in rides and deployed vehicles. With a net loss of $44.3 million recorded at the end of Q1 2023, it’s likely that the company will continue to downsize its operations.

Micromobility.com: similar woes despite the acquisition of Wheels and rebranding

Founded in 2015 and headquartered in New York, Micromobility.com delivers micromobility services in Italy, the United States, and Singapore (43 cities in total), which include e-scooters, e-bicycles, and e-mopeds. It also operates Helbiz Kitchen, a delivery-only ghost kitchen restaurant, and the Helbiz Live streaming platform. The company currently employs 284 people. 

In 2023, the company, formerly known as Helbiz, underwent a rebranding and transformed into Micromobility.com Inc. This rebranding coincided with the plans to launch retail stores across the United States.

In 2022, Micromobility.com successfully completed its acquisition of Wheels, a shared micromobility operator, along with promises to its investors that the merger would lead to a doubling of annual revenue and facilitate the path to profitability. The company set its sights on capitalizing on Wheels' extensive user base of 5 million riders and venturing into untapped markets.

Despite these hopes, Micromobility.com experienced less than stellar financial results in 2022. The company achieved a revenue of $15.54 million, indicating a 21.07% growth compared to the previous year's $12.83 million. However, the company also incurred losses amounting to -$82.07 million, reflecting a 13.3% increase compared to 2021.

In 2023, Micromobility.com announced a reverse stock split to meet Nasdaq Capital Market's minimum bid price requirement and make their common stock more attractive to investors. This move didn't come as a surprise, considering that the company received a delisting warning from Nasdaq in 2022. Coupled with its enduring track record of operating losses and negative cash flows over time, the overall outlook of the company's financial performance is rather discouraging.

Why are Bird and Micromobility.com facing financial difficulties and exiting markets?

The difficulties faced by Bird and Micromobility.com can be partly explained by their venture capital-backed business model. They witnessed swift expansion while hemorrhaging substantial amounts of money. And the more they expanded, the more money they bled. Now, it’s unsurprising to witness their heavily subsidized business models shifting their priorities from aggressive growth to mitigating losses and striving for profitability.

In recent years, there has been a surge in the popularity of shared mobility special purpose acquisition companies (SPAC). These companies are created solely for the purpose of raising capital through an initial public offering and have no commercial operations of their own. The ultimate goal of a SPAC is to acquire or merge with an existing company.

Financial struggles have become a common theme among shared mobility SPACs This can be attributed to the rush of companies going public without first establishing a sustainable business model – and Bird and Micromobility.com are no exception to this trend. The challenges faced by these companies emphasize the significance of building a strong and viable foundation prior to entering the public market.

The relentless pursuit of expansion has proven to be an ineffective strategy. For instance, some experts suggest that Bird's decision to outsource its operations to franchises made it harder to persuade cities and secure contracts. Their emphasis on breadth rather than depth resulted in a lack of understanding regarding local communities and the nuances of local legislation. As a result, major players like Bird and Micromobility.com have been withdrawing their fleets from “less profitable” cities.

The soaring shared micromobility market: a golden opportunity for local entrepreneurs

According to a McKinsey study, the shared micromobility market has the potential to reach a staggering $50 billion to $90 billion by 2030, with an estimated annual growth rate of approximately 40% between 2019 and 2030. By 2030, shared micromobility could constitute around 10% of the overall shared mobility market. 

In this context, the recent financial challenges faced by Bird and Micromobility.com should not be seen as indicative of a bleak future for the entire industry. Instead, these setbacks highlight the inherent unsustainability of aggressive and expansive business models within the shared micromobility landscape. 

Local operators with smaller ground teams enjoy a notable edge over companies like Bird and Micromobility.com. By focusing on underserved markets and having an intimate understanding of their communities, these operators can deliver superior service while maintaining lower costs and stable profit margins. 

Returning to Bird's Q1 2023 financial report, they also reported 0.9 rides per deployed vehicle per day. Now, let's compare this figure to other operators. We conducted a survey involving two EU-based operators that make use of Atom Mobility: 

  • Operator 1: With a fleet of 4,000+ vehicles across over 10 cities, they recorded an average ride per vehicle of 0.9 in Q1 2023
  • Operator 2: Operating in a single city with a fleet of 200 vehicles, they achieved an average ride per vehicle of 2.7 in Q1 2023

As fleet sizes increase, the average ride per vehicle tends to decrease, as seen with Operator 1 and Bird. However, the figure from Operator 2 highlights the potential for local operators to thrive in underserved cities that larger shared mobility companies may neglect.

We have seen examples of this – Go Green City, a Swiss electric moped-sharing company, presently provides its services in Zurich and Basel. Their small, tightly-knit team prioritizes local knowledge, enabling them to operate with enhanced flexibility and agility – a level of service that larger companies like Bird or Micromobility.com will find challenging to match. Overall, more than 100 projects have successfully launched their shared mobility ventures with Atom Mobility's assistance, operating in over 140 cities across the globe.

As the desire for shared micromobility services grows – with a focus on community safety and the ethical integration of these modes of transportation into the overall urban transit system – it seems that local operators have a distinct edge over large multinationals.

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Everything you need to know before starting your car-sharing business
Everything you need to know before starting your car-sharing business

What is car-sharing & how does it work? What's the car-sharing business model? How to launch a car-sharing business? Find out here.

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Is it a good time to start a car-sharing business? Absolutely. 

The car-sharing market is booming – it's estimated to grow 20% every year and reach a $20 billion market value by 2032. That's nearly a sevenfold increase from 2022's $2.9 billion valuation. 

Despite app-based vehicle sharing being a relatively new entrant in the mobility ecosystem, it has exploded in popularity. People have been quick to pick up on its convenience and ease of use, especially in urban centers where maintaining a private vehicle grows increasingly costly and bothersome. 

This spells an opportunity for entrepreneurs keen to answer real mobility demand. 

But what is car-sharing and how does it work? What does the business model look like? And what are the first steps for getting started?
Find the answers below. 

What is car-sharing and how does it work?

Car-sharing is an app-based mobility service that allows individuals to rent vehicles on a short-term basis. With this service, users gain access to a fleet of vehicles which are typically stationed throughout a city, ensuring that there's always a car conveniently nearby.

The user's journey and benefits of car-sharing

Through an app on their smartphone, users can locate, book, and unlock the closest available vehicle, as well as pay for their journey automatically by adding payment details, thus providing a seamless experience and quick access to a car. Other common benefits for users include not having to worry about fuel or insurance, as those are included in the price. 

Cities often encourage the use of shared mobility since it helps decongest streets, free up parking, and minimize the environmental impact of private vehicles on the city. Accordingly, public-private partnerships are common, conferring further benefits for users of this type of shared mobility: free parking, free use of bus lanes, and more. 

How does car-sharing work: the business perspective

On the business side of things, the operator is responsible for ensuring that maintenance and logistical tasks for their fleet are taken care of. 

This includes regular maintenance tasks, such as vehicle check-ups, repairs, fuel fill-ups, and cleaning. Also, if you have a free-floating model (where users can leave their cars anywhere), the operator should regularly relocate cars to optimal locations for continued user convenience and reliability.

Beyond deploying and maintaining their fleet, operators also oversee the smooth functioning of their mobility app, as well as take care of user verification, namely, ensuring that the people signing up are who they say they are and have valid driver licenses. Of course, like any other business, customer support and other responsibilities tied to running the operation are a given.

The car-sharing business model

So far, we have listed a lot of expenses – maintenance, management, insurance, IT. Add to this salaries, operational overheads, and buying or renting the fleet itself. How do businesses recoup all these expenses and turn a profit? 

Note: Since car-sharing businesses operate at scale, they should aim to negotiate lower rates with service providers.

Car-sharing businesses make use of several revenue sources. First and foremost, customers are charged for the time/distance use of the car. Additionally, branding and cross-promotion partnerships (e.g. advertising on the car or the app) are often used to secure additional revenue. It may also be sensible to create membership or loyalty programs to ensure recurring revenue, by offering subscribers added benefits, such as access to premium cars or longer reservation times. 

The aim is to have your cars on the road as much as possible, so enterprises typically focus on maximizing vehicle usage and revenue per vehicle. Finding success is about finding balance in a constantly changing landscape – having too few cars may lead to overbooking and dissatisfaction with lack of availability, whereas having too many will lead to inefficient use of resources. 

How to start a car-sharing business

As with any business, launching a car-sharing project requires research, investment, development, and strategy. Let's take a look at each in turn. 

1. Market research

When exploring opportunities for starting a car-sharing business, numerous factors must be considered.

Audience and demand 

Understanding the demographics, preferences, and behaviors of your potential users is crucial. As is determining the level of demand. Some questions you should answer include:

  • Who is my target audience – urban commuters, occasional travelers?
  • What are their demographics? How should you communicate with them?
  • What segment offers the most promise – B2C, B2B?

Competition

Identifying who's already operating in your area and why (or why not) can help you get a better grasp of what works and what doesn't. Some questions you should answer include:

  • Who are my competitors – other car/ride-sharing businesses, public transportation?
  • How can I differentiate my business from others?
  • Has any previous similar business failed in this area – why? 

Legal and logistical considerations

Determining whether there are any legal/practical barriers to launching your operations is a smart thing to do before you invest too much time and money into your project. Consider:

  • What are the legal requirements for operating this type of business in your area?
  • How will you handle insurance and liability issues for your fleet?
  • How and where will you run your day-to-day operations? If you're thinking about going electric – does the area have the necessary infrastructure?

While answering these questions isn't necessarily a prerequisite for launching your business, dealing with them early on can save you a lot of headaches down the road. 

2. Investment

How much capital do you need to launch a car-sharing business? 

It depends most on whether you're planning to rent or buy vehicles for your fleet. While renting is more accessible in the short term, it will take a sizable bite out of your profit. Owning your vehicles is typically the preferred option, as this offers price stability, long-term cost efficiency, freedom of operations, and other benefits. 

To get a ballpark estimate for the starting investment, you should add up the total price of cars (EUR 12,000-20,000 per vehicle), insurance, car-sharing software procurement and maintenance, as well as expected operational overhead for getting started. It may also be wise to put aside some funds for unexpected expenses such as repairs.

3. Development and launch strategy

Securing the vehicles and necessary permits can take a while, and you should account for this. During this time, you should put your plans into practice. Establish maintenance protocols and logistical plans for efficient fleet management. Implement user verification processes and responsive customer support for a secure and positive user experience. 

As to the IT infrastructure, you can save a lot of resources by choosing a white-label IT solution to power your app and dramatically accelerate your time-to-market. Platforms like ATOM Mobility can equip your business with the app you need – all you have to do is customize it

Speaking of customization, don't forget about branding. Create a compelling brand identity and plan for targeted launch and marketing campaigns to generate awareness the moment your business is ready for its first customers. 

Your car-sharing business journey starts here

Now you know how to start a business in this industry – entering this thriving market demands a blend of user-centric strategies and astute business decisions. But the key to success is reliable partners that can guide you in the right direction. 

Get in touch with ATOM Mobility to discover how you can power your new enterprise the smart way.

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32 shared mobility stats from 2023 you should know in 2024
32 shared mobility stats from 2023 you should know in 2024

From the rise of ride-hailing services to the increasing popularity of shared vehicles, the industry's landscape is evolving rapidly. This article presents 32 key statistics from 2023 that provide valuable insights into the current state and future prospects of the shared mobility sector, offering a comprehensive overview for industry stakeholders and observers.

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The shared mobility industry has experienced significant growth and transformation in 2023, with various segments such as ride-sharing, vehicle rental, and micro-mobility witnessing substantial changes.

From the rise of ride-hailing services to the increasing popularity of shared vehicles, the industry's landscape is evolving rapidly. This article presents 32 key statistics from 2023 that provide valuable insights into the current state and future prospects of the shared mobility sector, offering a comprehensive overview for industry stakeholders and observers.

General – Shared mobility industry

The global shared mobility market is expanding rapidly, projecting a substantial increase in revenues and ridership. By 2030, it is poised to double its share of urban transport journeys from 2023. Additionally, the number of individuals earning from shared mobility services is forecasted to rise notably. 

In Europe, shared vehicle services demonstrate considerable growth, with an increase in multi-mobility users. At the same time, European cities are the strictest shared micromobility regulators, limiting the number of operators and implementing various rules.

Global

  1. The shared mobility market worldwide revenue was projected to reach US$1.43T in 2023. Statista
  1. Shared mobility is expected to make up 7% of all urban transport journeys globally by 2030, up from 3% in 2023. Shared Mobility's Global Impact
  1. The global shared mobility market size is expected to grow at a CAGR of 41.65% from 2023 until 2030. Shared Mobility Market Analysis Report
  1. More than nine million people were estimated to earn an income from shared mobility services in 2023, and the number is forecasted to grow to 16M by 2030. Shared Mobility's Global Impact
  1. In the shared vehicles market, the number of users is expected to amount to 5.09B users by 2027. Statista
  1. The average revenue per user (ARPU) was expected to amount to US$180.90 in 2023. Statista
  1. In global comparison, most revenue from shared mobility is generated in China (US$358B in 2023). Statista
  1. Africa has the strongest income growth from shared mobility services: jobs are expected to increase by 113% from 2023 to 2030. Shared Mobility's Global Impact
  1. Ride-hailing drivers typically earn above the minimum wage in Europe (+37% in Berlin and +91% in Tallinn) and above the wages for jobs with comparable skill levels in Africa (up to +130% in South Africa and Nigeria). Shared Mobility's Global Impact

Europe & UK

  1. There is a significant growth in the use of shared vehicle services, with a 221% increase recorded. Free Now report
  1. The number of multi-mobility users has also grown by 27%. Free Now report
  1. Comparing Q3 2022 and Q3 2023, shared mobility ridership is up 1%, and fleets are down 2%, meaning Total Vehicle Distance (TVD) slightly improved across the board. Q3 2023 European Shared Mobility Index
  1. Out of 32 European authorities that regulate shared micromobility operations, more than two-thirds have implemented rules on geofencing (26), parking (25), removal or repositioning of vehicles (25), fleet size limits (24), and fleet rebalancing and redistribution (22). POLIS report on How European Cities are regulating Shared Micromobility
  1. Around half of the European authorities limit the number of operators, demand insurance, set speed limits, specify conditions for vehicles and their maintenance, and have instructions for the end of operations. POLIS report on How European Cities are regulating Shared Micromobility 
  1. Juniper Research has ranked Berlin as the leading smart city in Europe in 2023 thanks to its mobility-as-a-service (MaaS) app Jelbi, which incorporates public and private transport. Other cities in the European top five are London, Barcelona, Rome and Madrid. Cities Today

Cars

Shared car ridership has increased significantly, with notable upward trends in Q3 2023. The global ride-hailing market is also projected to witness substantial growth, with increased user numbers and an uptick in popularity over taxis in the United States. In Europe, German cities, led by Berlin, continue to dominate in total shared car ridership. 

  1. Shared car ridership has grown by 22% from Q3 2022 to Q3 2023. Q3 2023 European Shared Mobility Index
  1. The car-sharing market size was worth USD 2.9B in 2022 and is estimated to showcase around 20% CAGR from 2023 to 2032. Global Market Insights
  1. The biggest increase of car ridership in Europe in 2023 happened in Riga, thanks to the emergence of Bolt Drive. Antwerp saw the 2nd most growth due to the introduction of Miles Mobility Q3 2023 European Shared Mobility Index
  1. German cities continue to dominate the rankings for total ridership per city. In Berlin, there are 30% more shared cars on the streets than in 2022. Q3 2023 European Shared Mobility Index
  1. The ride-hailing market worldwide is projected to grow by 6.97% (2023-2028), resulting in a market volume of US$215.70B in 2028. Statista
  1. Ride-hailing services were anticipated to hit a record number of users in 2023, with an additional 6.6M users in the US, representing a 10.1% increase and finally recouping its pandemic-era losses. Insider Intelligence
  1. In the United States, ride-hailing is reported to be used more frequently than taxis, with around a fifth of respondents being occasional users of ride-sharing services. Statista

Electric scooters and mopeds

Electric scooter (e-scooter) ridership has declined, although it remains the predominant shared mobility choice, constituting 42% of total ridership. Moped ridership in Europe has similarly decreased, influenced by exits of key market players. 

E-scooters have emerged as an environmentally friendly alternative, with 10% of rides directly replacing car journeys. Citizen referendums in Paris and evolving regulations in Amsterdam reflect the dynamic landscape of the electric scooter and moped market.

  1. E-scooter ridership has fallen by 14% from Q3 2022 to Q3 2023. That said, scooters are still the most popular shared mobility transport mode, with 42% total ridership. Q3 2023 European Shared Mobility Index
  1. Moped ridership in Europe has fallen by 28% from Q3 2022 to Q3 2023 due to the departure of some players in key markets. Q3 2023 European Shared Mobility Index
  1. Electric scooter usage patterns show 10% of rides directly replace car journeys. Shared Mobility's Global Impact
  1. Thus, e-scooters have contributed to a reduction of up to 120M car-kilometers traveled, helping to reduce car-related emissions by an estimated 30,000 tons of CO2e. Shared Mobility's Global Impact
  1. On 2 April 2023, Paris held a referendum on shared e-scooters, and 90% of voters gave their vote against renewing the contract of three shared micromobility companies to operate around 5,000 e-scooters each. CNBC
  1. In Amsterdam, moped ridership has grown by 22% despite new regulations on helmets being brought into effect. Q2 2023 European Shared Mobility Index

Bikes

The global bike-sharing market shows significant growth. In Europe, station-based bikes have increased in popularity. Dockless bikes experienced an impressive surge as well, following the 2023 scooter ban in Paris. Overall, bike fleets and ridership are expanding across major European cities, contributing to a robust Trips/Vehicle/Day (TVD) ratio.

  1. The global bike-sharing market is projected to reach US$12.68 billion by 2027, growing at a CAGR of 10.71% from 2023 to 2027. Statista
  1. Station-based bike ridership in Europe has grown by 11% from Q3 2022 to Q3 2023. Station-based bikes are the second most popular shared mobility transport mode, with 30% total ridership. Q3 2023 European Shared Mobility Index
  1. After the 2023 scooter ban in Paris, dockless bikes have boomed 144%. Dockless bike ridership more than doubled YoY in September (x2.5) and October 2023 (x2.3).  Q3 2023 European Shared Mobility Index
  1. Fleets and ridership are growing across Europe, especially in cities like Paris, London,Copenhagen and Antwerp. The combined TVD of dockless and station-based bikes is a very healthy 2.9. Q3 2023 European Shared Mobility Index

Rolling into 2024

The shared mobility market continues to expand. With ride-sharing and micro-mobility playing pivotal roles, the future of shared mobility appears promising. The insights gathered from these statistics are crucial for understanding the shared mobility market's trajectory and its implications for the broader transportation ecosystem.

Let's make 2024 a year of shared mobility!

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