If you’ve walked the streets of a major American city lately, you very well might have almost tripped over one of those electric stand-up scooters that are either littering every sidewalk, or simplifying residents’ commutes, depending on how you look at it. Either way, you can now thank Ford.
The automaker’s Smart Mobility division has announced the acquisition of Spin, one of the leading providers of dockless, app-enabled electric scooters.
“Everywhere you look around the U.S., people’s mobility choices are changing. In crowded and congested cities, especially, many are reconsidering their transportation options,” said Sunny Madra, vice-president at Ford X (the company’s startup-investment arm), in an article published on Medium. “From ride-hailing to dedicated bicycle lanes, people and cities are considering alternatives to personal vehicles, but some are also taking more novel approaches — including scooter sharing.”
Though based (as so many tech startups are) in San Francisco, Spin operates its fleet of electric scooters in 13 cities and university campuses across the United States, and is working to add more.
Using the scooters – deployed by Spin and rivals like Bird and LimeBike – users simply download the app (available for both Android and iOS), walk up to one of the thousands of scooters scattered around the city, scan the QR code, and off they go. Usage rates are typically lower than hailing an Uber, and they can be used easily and simply to go between home, the bus or train station, and work or school.
It’s been alternately hailed as a convenience or derided as a nuisance, prompting South Park to send them up in a recent episode, and officials to regulate the scooters’ deployment and usage. But Spin, for one, “is committed to working hand-in-hand with cities and universities to implement micro-mobility solutions responsibly, safely and sustainably as they expand their operations,” continued Madra. “This approach aligns well with our values at Ford and with our aspiration to be the world’s most trusted company.”