How to predict the future of micromobility when the sector is evolving so rapidly? We asked the top experts from leading companies in the industry to share their opinions and predictions regarding the trends we can expect to see developing in 2023. From Cowboy to Dott, we gathered their insights on the key developments to come in our ever-changing sector: from the role of repairs , to integrated solutions and partnerships with local governments, to the importance of software innovations, and more.
Trend 1: Software as the new main element in the e-bike industry
Co-Founder and Hardware Director at Cowboy, Karim is a versatile entrepreneur, founding both Software and Hardware businesses mainly centred around operations and logistics.
First off, if you look at what happened in the bike industry, it's comparable to cars and mobile phones. In the last 10 years, two significant hardware moments occurred; the electrification of the bike and secondly, the connectivity of the bike. We believe that the differentiation of ride experience will be down to incredible innovation in software on top of that hardware. This is precisely what happened with iPhone or Tesla; hardware differences became less relevant and software became the main element and soon the e-bike industry will follow suit.
Then there's the question of mass e-bike adoption: Like in 2022, e-bike sales will continue to outsell cars, becoming the ubiquitous mode of transport for urban dwellers. We'll see wider adoption amongst a younger, commuter class as well as families, who will continue to ditch their second car as it becomes too expensive to run. Ebikes provide families with a more affordable, practical transport option that can be shared by the whole household.
Finally - sport and fitness software has enabled the individual to track their performance well, but, as more of us seek real-world interactions following the decline of social media, we expect to see tech facilitate the creation of more connected communities. These meaningful connections will help to track and improve performance but also focus on the mental wellness of the person, reflecting how they feel, not just calories burned.
Karim Slaoui, Co-founder and Hardware Director at Cowboy
Trend 2: The collaboration between public transport and micromobility
Currently working at Dott, Fabrice El Gohary is leading business development, including strategic alliances, partnerships, and commercial activities. He is a seasoned executive with a background in business development, strategy, and general management.
Shared micro-mobility services - offering e-scooters, e-bikes, and e-mopeds short-term rental - usually provide travellers with additional freedom in terms of commuting options. They are also a great alternative to individually-owned cars in congested cities with limited parking availability. Historically, those services have been operating independently from public transport. More recently, private and public parties have explored more active forms of collaboration to foster continuity of service and complement the existing network for citizens.
Through this regular dialogue, public transport authorities and micro-mobility players now work together in most cities to mitigate the impact or disruption coming from general strikes, festive events, or simply planned renovation work. Some parties have even gone further by encouraging the combination of public and private options to cover the full length of a travel (eg. public transport + e-bikes, e-scooter + bus). As such, they invest actively in the deployment of shared electric vehicles next to tram, bus and metro stations to support this multimodal journey.
At Dott, we strongly believe in this collaboration. We don’t replace public transport, we amplify it, unlocking underserved or challenged areas in our cities. Through this association, we work with public transport partners to identify poorly/uncovered service areas and ensure local deployment of our vehicles. This helps boost the local economic activity, and fosters integration of shops, small and privately-owned businesses, to a more comprehensively covered service area.
Fabrice El Gohary, Strategic and Business Development at Dott
Trend 3: Sustainability and circularity at the heart of micromobility
Passionate about the technological revolution happening around mobility, urbanization, sustainability and smart-cities, Evrim Taskiran is currently fully dedicated to scaling the next generation of Micro-Mobility after-sales services.
The more funding and investment flew into micromobility, the more pressure on sustainability has been put on its key stakeholders: device makers, fleet operators and city officials, to respect the very first objective of this green movement. Since 2018, many improvements have been introduced by these stakeholders to contribute to a more sustainable way of running micromobility. Devices are much more reliable and durable than in the beginning, operators run their operations more efficiently and cities have been investing in the infrastructure to make this transition smoother.
The next-stage challenge is about controlling the supply chain which has been negatively impacted since the beginning of the Covid pandemic, causing shortages or delays on sourcing specific components. The status quo of replacing components for each repair & maintenance is no longer viable; the idea of reusing old parts needs to be embedded within the operations of each player. Meanwhile, the second-hand devices market is growing at an unprecedented rate, especially given the financial climate on a global scale. Besides consumer devices, many older sharing fleets get refurbished too and used in different use cases in different regions.
Finally, the more products are introduced into the market, the more complex it becomes to manage all the spare parts and the related supply chain. This introduces significant delays for the end-users to get a reliable service when they need a simple intervention. All these reasons create the need for startups to play a significant role in these types of circular activities, primarily in refurbishing and recycling. These startups aim to provide a fast and reliable service with the interventions conducted on-spot. They build their processes entirely on ensuring a high performance on these 3 main factors. While consumers benefit from the speed and the convenience, brands and operators may no longer need to build a high capacity that becomes inefficient at low seasons.
Evrim Taskiran, Founder and CEO of STEPfix
Trend 4: Repairing for a more sustainable micromobility
While working at TIER Mobility as Head of Regional Operations for South Europe, he realized no green solutions to their logistics needs existed. Passionate about our century’s challenges and savvy entrepreneur, he decided to found Urbeez with a vision of becoming Europe’s first and largest 100% electric logistics and mobility company.
As micromobility further matures as a trend, we think the repair industry is expected to surpass the manufacturing industry in the near future. With the growing focus on sustainability and reducing waste, consumers are increasingly opting for repairing and fixing their possessions, rather than buying new ones.
This shift towards repair is not only beneficial for the environment, but it also creates job opportunities and fosters local economies. In contrast, the traditional manufacturing industry often involves large, centralized operations with a focus on producing new products. The rise of the repair industry represents a shift towards a more sustainable and locally-driven economy.
At Urbeez, we offer a battery-swapping service for micromobility vehicles of any brand and we 100% refurbish all vehicles before selling them directly to our customers. By doing so, we are able to reduce waste, keep a low carbon footprint and promote sustainable, circular consumption practices.
Angelino Capretti, Founder of Urbeez
Trend 5: Refurbished scooters as a solution for smaller operators
Markus Dammann does project management, business development, analysis, and supply chain for electric micro-mobility. With five years of international working experience, including two years in China and with Chinese companies, he also has an academic background in management and urban transport research.
The big companies such as Tier, Spin, Helbiz, and Bird are pulling out of markets and hopefully selling their freed up used fleets. Most of their third and fourth generation scooters were built so sturdy that large parts of them can be reused. This brings a great opportunity for smaller players to reduce the cost and carbon footprint of their fleets!
Previously, big operators bore most of the public pressure to increase the sustainability of their fleet’s life cycle. As the market consolidates now from a VC-funded oligopoly to a polypoly with many local players, the public’s attention shifts towards the sustainability of smaller operators.
Unfortunately, they cannot exert the same pressure on the dominant large Chinese manufacturers as their bigger siblings. TIER was apparently able to pressure their OEM to use recycled aluminum for producing their scooter chassis, which is one of the measures they claim reduced their production-related emissions by ca. 40%. The production of e-scooters accounts for ca. 80% of a shared scooter fleet’s emissions over their entire life cycle, and aluminum parts constitute ca. 60% of that. If smaller scooter operators want to cut off their emissions by ca. 50%, they can do so by using refurbished scooter chassis!
At the Joyride Garage, we’re thus partnering with Stepfix and other sellers of used and refurbished fleets to improve our industry’s environmental footprint. Please check us out here!
Markus Dammann, Vehicle Partner Manager at Joyride
Trend 6: E-bike leasing for employees
Cycling enthusiast, Tom Maes is growing bicycle culture at companies. Open-minded, optimist, curious, creative and driven, he loves to develop new ventures making society more joyful and sustainable.
Many people are putting their cars aside and are looking for a more sustainable and smarter alternative for daily trips, including commuting. And that's where the electric bicycle is increasingly emerging as the best candidate. However, it usually comes with a hefty price tag.
Luckily it has never been easier for employers to offer bicycle leasing as a supplement to the salary package than it is today, while the employees benefit from the financial advantage - up to 40% compared to a private purchase.
We foresee and expect to see further growth of this trend as flexible players on the market make e-bike leasing very accessible and, above all, simple: minimal workload for the employer and maximum benefit for the employees.
Tom Maes, Managing partner at o2o Bicycle leasing
Trend 7: Renewable energy sources
Working at NIU Technologies since 2018, Sieghart Michielsen is now their Director of International. Professional with a very positive hands-on and can-do attitude, he is always eager to learn and develop while motivating a team, working hard, and having fun.
As the Director of International at NIU Technologies, I believe that the most important sustainable trends in micromobility will be centered around the use of renewable energy sources and reducing carbon emissions. With the increasing awareness of the impact of global warming and air pollution, customers are becoming more conscious of the environmental impact of the products they use.
This trend will drive the demand for electric scooters, bikes, and other micro-vehicles powered by sustainable energy sources such as solar, wind, and hydro. Additionally, advancements in battery technology will lead to longer range and more efficient products, further reducing the carbon footprint of micromobility. By 2023 and beyond, sustainable trends in micromobility will play a critical role in shaping the future of urban transportation.
Sieghart Michielsen, Director of International at NIU Technologies
Trend 8: New legislation and urban infrastructures
Director, then General Manager in the Benelux for Pure Electric, Koen Wauman has been working in the micromobility industry since 2019.
Electric scooters will worldwide improve the quality of our lives and will help to give an answer to climate change issues only when used for the right reason. At this point in time the bigger part of our community is not mentally ready to accept the use of e-scooters on a large scale and only a further change/update of legislation and further changes/improvements in our urban infrastructure in combination with safer e-scooters will create the basis for a general acceptance.
With our company Pure Electric / Pure Scooters we are not looking to replace moving on foot or public transport by driving an e-scooter nor selling e-scooters in order to respond to human laziness although this may sound very interesting from a commercial perspective. It won’t change the congestion issues and the environmental pollution. And precisely that is what Pure Electric is willing to do and emphasise; that is the way forward to make the future look bright.
Koen Wauman, General manager for Pure Electric Benelux
Trend 9: Subscriptions as the future of micromobility
Building towards tomorrow's urban mobility, François Desmet is the Co-Founder of TAITO. He is an industrial Designer & Entrepreneur with a passion for e-mobility, product design and sustainable solutions.
Micro-mobility innovations have taken huge leaps forward in recent years, providing all kinds of alternative mobility solutions in crowded cities. But I believe we are still very much in the ‘Early Adopters’ phase of micro-mobility adoption, as most cities are still heavily car-centric, leaving loads of room for improvement towards a city made for living.
The city of Paris for example is making great strides by building a network of bike lanes (+180 km by 2026) and tripling the amount of bike-parking spots (source: Bloomberg). This is a great start, but I believe a more synergetic structural approach is needed as well. As Kersten Heineke well said in her McKinsey interview; “we believe that there isn’t a single micromobility vehicle that can truly replace a car”. Bikes, e-scooters, mopeds… - electric or not - only solve a fraction of people’s mobility needs, (especially in a larger city like Paris).
I think we will need to evolve towards a synergetic subscription-based transportation system, which seamlessly combines public transportation and various brands of shared e-scooters, e-bikes, e-cargos and other micro-solutions into 1 single subscription service organized by the city. This would greatly increase the UX. By involving the local government, you could solve the street clutter problem by allocating dedicated parking spots, while doing an optional user identity-check to ensure the proper use of these shared solutions. All the operational and servicing complications aside, where STEPfix would play a key role ;), this would allow us -as e-mobility producers- to reap the benefits of the economies of scale in the process. This is a long-term vision with still a lot of question marks, but the future of micro-mobility is looking bright, that’s for sure!
François Desmet, Co-Founder of Taito Mobility
Trend 10: A more organized micromobility space
Industrial Designer turned Entrepreneur with over 15 years of Strategic Product Development and New Category Creation for Fortune 500s to Start Ups, Janelle Wang is bringing breakthrough Innovation and Sustainability to reality.
I foresee that the micromobility space will be more organized and collaborative with cities and partners with more infrastructure in place, more bike lanes and bike/ebike/scooter charging stations.
We believe in supercharging smart cities through mobility solutions partnering with cities, ride-share operators, energy companies and hotels to enable our world to be a cleaner, smarter and better place to live.
ACTON hopes to continue participating in this, and build on billions of transportation miles that we've converted to green & clean miles. We look forward to riding into 2023!
Janelle Wang, CEO & co-founder of ACTON
Trend 11: Micromobility in the tourism sector
Over the past several years, Yves Van Sante has focused his career on creating and running companies. From startups to large corporations, he always has been a partner in each venture in the development process. He also worked with businesses on their strategic and operational planning as well as helping them expand into new markets.
Since 2022, we have seen a clear trend in the hospitality industry to offer e-bikes in all its variations to hotel guests as an additional service. Guests can choose from a range of e-bikes consisting of Touring e-bikes, Mountain e-bikes, regular classic bikes etc. Bikes and e-bikes are an ideal means of attracting guests and it also generates additional revenue. Turnover that the stricken international hotel market could really use after Corona and high energy prices.
For guests, it is an extra incentive as more and more tourists are looking for an active holiday. The e-bike mainly fits into this as one does not always have to be a top athlete to enjoy a fun bike ride with a Touring e-bike or an adventurous trip in the woods with a Moutain e-bike. Breakdown assistance organisations such as VAB are also capitalising on this trend by training road helpers to become bicycle mechanics so that unfortunate hotel guests can be helped if they have problems along the way.
Yves Van Sante, Managing partner for the Cesano Group and the Aratrum Management Group bv
Trend 12: A more sustainable, efficient and flexible transportation landscape
Co-Founder of Ellio Bikes, Jorrit Heidbuchel is giving car drivers an alternative to stay ahead of urbanisation.
In 2023, Flanders is poised to see a transformation in its transportation landscape, as the demand for sustainable, flexible, and efficient options continues to increase.
For starters, the sharing economy will proceed to play a big role, with companies like Cambio, Swapfiets, and Cozywheels making it easier for people to share cars or bikes instead of owning their own. Secondly, the electrification of vehicles in general will continue, with more and more people opting for electric cars and bikes due to their ease of use and environmental benefits.
Next, public transportation will make a comeback in 2023, investing in their services and offering flexible subscriptions to win back commuters in a post-pandemic era. In line with the trend of electrification, especially electric bikes and speed pedelecs will become more popular, as bike technology and infrastructure in society improve.
Finally, despite these trends, personal cars will still reign supreme, especially with the trend towards hybrid working arrangements since the pandemic.
To conclude, Flanders is definitely pushing for a more sustainable, efficient, and flexible transportation landscape, thereby taking (more than) a few steps in the right direction.
Jorrit Heidbuchel, Co-Founder of Ellio Bikes
Want to learn more about how STEPfix can help your business?