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Voi threatens to withdraw e-scooters from London

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Micromobility operator Voi says it may have no other option than to withdraw from London’s e-scooter trial due to it being too “heavily regulated”.

In a letter to Mayor Sadiq Khan, Voi CEO Fredrik Hjelm said that if Transport for London (TfL) does not take urgent action then the operator will be forced to withdraw its e-scooters on the grounds that they cannot compete with rental e-bikes. 

E-bike companies are currently permitted to deploy as many bikes as they like, wherever they like. 

Currently Voi and Lime are the two participating operators in London’s e-scooter trials and Hjelm warns that Voi’s withdrawal could create a monopoly for the single remaining operator.

“The options we are considering are two-fold. One is if e-scooters are viable at all in London and whether we should exit the market. The other is how feasible it would be to produce a very large scale e-bike operation in the city,” Voi UK General Manager James Bolton told Zag Daily.

The operator is now considering investing and deploying 20,000 e-bikes across the capital this summer.

“E-bikes in London are one of the most in-demand modes of transport across the whole of Europe,” said Bolton.

For e-scooters however, London is Voi’s lowest-performing market out of more than 100 towns and cities it operates in. 

As it stands, just nine London boroughs and the City of London have Voi e-scooters with too few parking spots, says the operator. 

Bolt recently ran a study analysing 155 European cities which found that flexible e-scooter regulations result in more affordable pricing and higher adoption from consumers. 

Bolton said that London’s heavily regulated market makes it harder for Voi to scale as a business with higher volumes and lower prices. 

“London is one of the most heavily regulated markets that we operate in,” he said. “The regulations place more costs on us as operators, whether it’s meeting strict service-level agreements, having a certain number of vehicles per borough, or having to pay fees associated with operations which we have to do in London.”

Some of the key issues include insufficient parking spots that make the average walk time to a vehicle six minutes, 18+ age restrictions, a speed limit cap of 12.5mph and being hampered by no-go and slow-go zones.

“If you go to any of our other markets across Europe, you can either use your in-app navigation or your local knowledge to get from A to B. If you try to do that in London, you’ll likely come across a no-ride zone or a slow zone or some other obstacle you wouldn’t have even known about unless you looked at the app.

“When you think there are around 35,000 e-bikes that don’t have to operate by these rules it creates a complete mismatch between the two vehicles.”

Dott also withdrew its e-scooters from the capital earlier this year citing similar concerns that the unregulated rise of e-bikes made it difficult for e-scooters to compete.

Voi’s withdrawal warning comes days after the third phase of national e-scooter trials concluded on 31 May – the penultimate deadline before the May 2026 extension. Local authorities who wished to extend trials to this deadline had until 31 May to request changes, such as in the area covered and the size of the e-scooter fleet.

“We know that TfL are working really hard behind the scenes to get this over the line, but ultimately we’re not seeing any improvement when it comes to expanding e-scooters to more people.”

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