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Winter is coming: European shared e-scooter update

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After a summer of spectacular growth, Europe’s big shared e-scooter providers are getting ready for the difficult winter season.

Sector giants TIER and Voi have closed most (but not all) of their Nordic fleets until spring, while there have only been a small number of new launches on the continent in the last month. 

Bolt has similarly closed a number of its mainly smaller fleets in eastern Europe – it is difficult to know if these are also seasonal closures or whether after a summer of particularly rapid expansion from this operator, there is some consolidation and closing of unsustainable operations (although Bolt likely sees some of its e-scooter fleets as loss-leaders to link people with its main business of providing taxis and rideshare). Bolt has in fact seen a few late-season e-scooter launches – most notably in Copenhagen, as well as Sibiu in Romania and Borås in Sweden. 

Other recent launches include LINK in Bordeaux, and Helbiz in Ravenna – both relatively “warm” winter locations. 

The biggest fleet expansions in the last couple of months include Voi in Brussels, now with 3000 e-scooters and Bolt in Berlin, with well over 2,000 (although this still trails several other operators). In general, Bolt has been the most active of all the operators at growing many of its existing fleets during November. Lime and Bird in Rome have also both increased in size. LINK has considerably ramped up their Canary Islands operation, perhaps hopeful of capitalising on a surge in tourism in this traditionally warm winter destination. 

Berlin is far and away the largest European city for shared e-scooters now, with over 20,000 of the vehicles present. Other large German cities (Frankfurt, Hamburg, Munich and Cologne) are not far behind. Indeed, Germany now has nearly half of Europe’s shared e-scooters. 

In the UK, numbers have plateaued since hitting 20,000 earlier in the year, and are currently just below that level. WIND has halved its Nottingham fleet while Neuron in Sunderland has also cut its fleet by 50 per cent. Conversely, Voi has grown in Bath and Bird in Canterbury is back to full strength. TIER also continues to grow out its York operation. 

Overall, Zag believes that the number of e-scooters available for short term hire in Europe is down approximately 15 per cent since October – from just under half a million to just over 400,000. We are confident that this is mainly due to preparation for winter and not due to an industry rethink – although undoubtedly some city halls are making things tougher for the operators, and there is oversupply and over-competition in some locations. We, therefore, think that the 500,000 European shared e-scooter milestone is likely to be broken sometime in Spring 2022.

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