As part of Germany Week, Auto Futures welcomes electric scooter sharing company Spin and Berlin’s SHIFT Mobility to discuss the country’s mobility presence and environmental focus.
Spin’s e-scooters have recently started to roll along Germany’s streets. Is the Ford-owned micro-mobility group just another provider, though? Absolutely not. Spin is aiming to co-operate with cities to actively create and develop new traffic concepts and to permanently change our mobility system. The company’s winning formula: a smart strategy and a refreshingly new perspective on urban traffic’s possibilities.
SHIFT Mobility takes place as part of the IFA fair in Berlin this September – and it is about nothing less than our mobility’s future and new mobility concepts. Dr. Hans Hamer, CEO of SHIFT Mobility, says: “SHIFT Mobility combines the topics ‘Future of Mobility’, digitalisation and connectivity, sustainability and urban infrastructure in a way that something new and inspiring is created.”
A very young company whose vision combines all of these aspects is Spin, which does not just bring more e-scooters onto our streets, though – it is committed to a new, sustainable micromobility and co-operates with the cities themselves to reach that goal. “We want to support local transportation by working together with the cities to promote sustainable micromobility and to work on mobility concepts for shorter distances,” says Felix Petersen, Head of Spin Europe.
Those co-operations with cities are a refreshingly new idea and stand out from the growing competition in the e-scooter market – and their common goal is to make urban mobility more environmentally friendly, more structured and generally more convenient. In this way, Spin wants to contribute to new forms of mobility being seen as the chance they are – instead of just being received as a disruptive factor. Crucial for that is the right infrastructure, including, for instance, sensible use of space. Pop-up bike lanes, highways for two-wheelers or the transformation of parking spaces are only some of the many possibilities.
Germany Is a Testing Lab for a More Environmentally-Friendly Traffic
Spin has already been quite successful with its micromobility approach in Germany: the orange and black coloured runabouts have been wheeling around many German cities since June 2020. Cologne was first: the city’s administration turned some parking spots for cars into fixed parking spaces for e-scooters and carsharing cars. Several cities in the Ruhr area included Spin scooters in their traffic concept – the metropolitan Ruhr region is a particularly attractive location and an exciting testing ground for the company. In the local city of Herne, Spin co-operates with the municipal administration as well as with the University of Bochum’s Institute for Urban Energy and Mobility Solutions, working on new mobility concepts.
The foundations for that work are traffic analyses, helping to develop a smart micromobility – including, for instance, making it easier to combine public transport and individual modes of transport such as e-scooters. Ultimately, this is about fusing well-established and new mobility in a smart way. “To reach this high goal, we analyse all traffic in detail, aiming to recognise problem areas and to find solutions with an added value for all road users”, Petersen explains.
Focusing on Environmental Aspects
Apart from structural challenges, Spin also cares about the sustainability aspect. Ensuring the supply of individual transport means, such as bikes and e-scooters, is an essential factor in making traffic more environmentally friendly. “If you want to live in a clean city and wish to move around that city in a most convenient way, you should re-think your mobility behaviour – because there won’t be clean and livable city centers as long as this avalanche of cars is blocking our streets,” Petersen says. This is why Spin focuses on environmentally friendly manufacturing and recycling of its vehicles and their batteries. The US-start-up is already recycling 70% of its e-scooter’s components, using them for repairing other e-scooters.
Spin also plans on bypassing the collecting and charging of its vehicles, which is normally very energy- and time-consuming – by using strategically located parking and charging stations, the so-called Spin-Hubs, instead. Those will connect the e-scooters with traffic hubs in the city and thereby close any mobility gaps. The result: no mass of rollers anywhere, no random parking, but regulated and useful alternatives. All of this is a major undertaking – but Spin approaches it in a realistic way.
“E-scooters won’t replace individual cars completely – this is not what we try to achieve. It is really about working on flexible transport alternatives in urban centres, which ensure a sustainable, intermodal micromobility for shorter distances,” says Petersen.
Therefore, micromobility is an important factor for achieving Spin’s ultimate climate goal: less car traffic and more quality of life in urban centres. The aim should be to encourage as many people as possible to leave their cars behind in favour of more sustainable modes of transport.