Specialist e-scooter retailer INOKIM has just opened a flagship store in central London.
It seems Transport Secretary Grant Shapps’ signal to make private e-scooters road legal is “perfect timing” for the Israeli-based firm.
In the window of the shiny new store in Holborn stands INOKIM’s top of the range scooter – the OXO. Priced at £1,899, it has a 2x1000W electric motor, 60V lithium-ion battery, a top speed of 40mph and can travel up to 68-miles on a single charge.
In an exclusive interview with Zag Daily, INOKIM Founder and CEO Kfir Ben-Shooshan explains his UK gamble, what we can learn from other markets and why he thinks there should be two categories of e-scooter.
Zag Daily: Can you explain how you became the first company to build an e-scooter?
KB: “Okay, so let me be clear. We were the first brand in the world to produce a foldable, lightweight motorised electric scooter. But this was not the only innovation we introduced to the world. We were also the first to utilise a lithium-ion battery and brushless hub motor inside the wheel in an electric scooter. Our scooter was the first one that was clean, low maintenance, easy to fold, easy to lift.”
Zag Daily: Why are you opening a flagship London store?
KB: “Part of our corporate mission is to be an agent of change in how we commute. This is our responsibility to promote our values, deliver clean, green, urban mobility. Of course, we’re not seeking to break any law, we just want to change the world. So for now, the flagship store is really just to educate the public on how to ride in a safe and responsible way. Because until now we were just selling through B2B [Business-to-Business] and this is the first time we want to do B2C [Business-to-Consumer].”
Zag Daily: Is this a risk when the legislation is not in place yet?
KB: “Look, eventually the UK government is going to be aligned with the rest of the world. The same thing happened to us in New York. We opened a store in New York three years ago when e-scooters were illegal. That’s how you create the gap in the market. When you become the first company to bet. You open the store and you invest money because you know they are going to be made legal.
“I’m betting now in the UK because nine years ago I saw the same thing happen in Tel Aviv. I knew then that micromobility was going to change the world.”
Zag Daily: Can you explain what happened in Tel Aviv?
KB: “Yes so we started our INOKIM revolution in Tel Aviv nine years ago, and it was the same there back then. Micromobility was a grey area. The market in Israel was the first market in the world to introduce regulation for micromobility and we were a trailblazer. INOKIM was the first company to get legal e-scooters on Israel’s streets so we have a lot of experience with this.
“Today we have sold between 60,000 to 70,000 e-scooters in Tel Aviv. Israel is the capital of the electric scooter world! They are everywhere. You barely see cars anymore, only electric scooters. This is the change that we’re seeing as people switch from cars to micromobility to keep the city safe.
“And I’m betting that in three years from now, the UK will be the biggest e-scooter market in Europe because there is huge demand for electric scooters in the UK. People here want to get to work in five minutes, not 20 minutes. They don’t want to depend on cars or the tubes.”
Zag Daily: It appears your bet may have paid off with Grant Shapps’ announcement.
KB: “This was perfect timing for us. I am not surprised, but I also appreciate the UK is facing the challenge of introducing a new micromobility solution with care and diligence. We have participated in these regulatory processes in many regions and want to bring our brand values of ‘safety first’ and experience to help ensure the rules are delivered in the right way.”
Zag Daily: What can the UK learn from your years of experience?
KB: “Well the law in Israel states that anyone over the age of 16 can ride an e-scooter. From my experience, I don’t think e-scooters are suitable for 16-year-olds so we don’t sell them to people under 18. This should be the same in the UK too.
“I believe the electric scooter market should be divided into two categories to split the smaller and larger e-scooters. The larger e-scooters priced over £600 that we sell have bigger batteries and can travel a lot further on a single charge.
“PACTS recommendation of e-scooters having a maximum speed of 20km/h [12.5mph] is not fast enough. You cannot tell people to ride an e-scooter on the road next to cars at a max speed of 20km/h as this is dangerous. So I think you should divide the infrastructure into bike lanes and roads. The maximum speed on a bike lane should be 25km/h but on the road it should be a minimum of 35-40km/h.
“These categories should also apply to an e-scooters weight as well. PACTS recommendation of a maximum unladen weight of 20kg is a mistake. Lighter scooters should go in bike lanes but the faster e-scooters that go on roads should be a minimum of 30kg. Also, larger riders over 6ft tall who weigh over 100kg cannot ride these small light scooters and be safe.”
Zag Daily: So this is about the difference between ‘last mile’ and longer distance transportation?
KB: “Yes, if we look at the common usage of micromobility solutions some usage is the classic ‘last mile’ from the mass transport hub to the office or from the car park to the office. This usage is solved by small, lightweight scooters, which can fold and fit next to a passenger on the tube and under your desk. These units are meant for a short distance and low speed. They can definitely share the same infrastructure as a bike in a bike lane.
“But e-scooters designated to sustain a longer ride like an urban delivery route need to be bigger and more robust. These e-scooters just like urban mopeds or speed pedalecs must share the road with other vehicles like cars so need to be ridden at comparable speeds at up to 35-40km/h. To not differentiate between these separate categories would be like saying that a regular bicycle and a moped are to be treated equally and use the same infrastructure.”
Zag Daily: How far are you envisaging people will take these e-scooters?
KB: “In Israel we have created the biggest scooter lab in the world right underneath my office. This is our HQ. We serve around 60 to 70,000 people as I said. We have people that have been riding almost 10,000km a year! This is insane. People are doing on average between 30 to 50km per day back and forth. Here in Tel Aviv, when I compare it to London, electric scooters are like your legs. It is the city of the future.”
Zag Daily: Finally, now the store has opened what are your UK sales targets?
KB: “We have actually been in the UK for the last five years but only selling B2B. We have five distributors here, and in that time we have sold around 20,000 scooters. Over the next year from now we expect to sell another 10,000 units. When the law passes, we are going to see a 1,000% increase because this micromobility revolution is going to take place here in London too. We plan to present London with a viable commuting solution using all our years of experience in how to do it the INOKIM way with safety and style.”