This week on Mobility Moments, Smoove CEO, Benoit Yameundjeu, discusses the global bike-sharing market, following the merger with fellow micro-mobility leader, Zoov.
By teaming up together, the two French start-ups aim to become a single European mobility champion, bringing electric shared mobility to the world in order to drastically lower transports emissions by replacing personal cars.
Firstly, tell us a bit about Smoove?
Smoove was created in 2008 and is now a leader in the global bike-sharing market. It continues to expand by capitalizing on all of its operational know-how and innovation through a union with Zoov, the reference in terms of e-bikesharing. Smoove is a supplier of shared bike systems and partners with various operators to provide management and maintenance support.
After having conquered several cities in France – including Avignon, Grenoble, Strasbourg and Montpellier – Smoove quickly grew its international presence by installing its bikes in Batumi, Moscow, Bangkok, Marrakech, Helsinki, Vancouver and, more recently, Lima.
In 2017, Smoove and Smovengo successfully won the renewal of the Vélib service in Paris with 20,000 bikes – 35% of which are e-bikes – and 1,400 stations. Velib is the biggest bike-sharing service with 400 000 subscribers. This ensures that Smoove’s offerings consistently adapt to the changing needs of cities, operators and citizens, to facilitate use and to make cycling accessible to as many people as possible, to contribute to making the more peaceful cities of tomorrow, with integrated transport networks.
How did the partnership with Zoov happen?
A few months ago, we started a discussion with Zoov about bringing our respective technologies together. Then, given our complementarities and the evolution of the market, we came to the conclusion that a partnership made sense and that together we would be stronger.
What is the overall goal?
Our goal is to become a European mobility champion. We’ll bring electric shared mobility to the world in order to drastically lower transports emission by replacing personal cars whenever it is possible. Together, we will have access to a significant market, thanks to Smoove, with an innovative product, thanks to Zoov. They are specialists in electric vehicles, we are specialists in stations, pedal bikes and accompanying cities.
Together, we will be able to position ourselves on all future opportunities with a much more competitive offer, making e-bike-sharing accessible to any city. We will count on the French industry and rely on our technologies, know-how and experiences to develop our future bikes.
We will be able to offer different solutions according to the demands of cities, whatever their size either with a full electric service, a full mechanical one, a hybrid system as well as with free-floating options. Eventually, we will propose a common bike that will include new functionalities.
How does this impact your existing business and, in turn, Zoov’s?
Smoove will continue to work with their existing partners in the same way as before, and will propose hardware or software upgrades wherever they can add value. We will also continue to trust micromobility operators with Zoov technology, enabling them to launch their own electric bike sharing operations.
Finally, we will continue to operate directly e-bike services as part of our product development cycle.
Will you be working with local governments to help achieve their greenhouse emissions target?
We are used to working daily with local institutions to help them best develop their bike systems, with our urbanism and logistics expertise. Bikesharing services are one of the most efficient ways to lower greenhouse gas emissions. So of course, our goal is to create a more sustainable mobility in every city, with the use of bikes and electric bikes, and will work with cities to attain their fixed goals.
Cities will get even more support up to and during the operational phase – including dedicated account managers to champion the project from our side.
Can this be replicated in other cities around the world?
This has already been replicated as we are present in 27 cities worldwide and have then developed a strong international expertise. Our offer includes customizable bikes and stations that have been designed to fit every city’s need.
With Smoove and Zoov joint offer and this long-term experience, we are able to launch bikesharing anywhere, from a few dozen to several thousand bikes.
Do you truly believe that we can replace all cars in cities?
We believe that bikes, especially electric, are the future of urban mobility. It is an inclusive, accessible and sustainable transportation system that has taken over cities over the world, even more since the pandemic. In Paris, there was a 35% increase in the number of rides, and 40% more kilometer ridden in 2020, compared to 2019. On average, in all of Smoove’s bike services around the world, the number of rides rose by 36% compared to 2019, which shows the democratization of bikes in cities.
Personal cars are the most impactful transport in terms of CO2 emissions per km. Bikesharing, and e-bike sharing even more, allow numerous modal shifts from car to bike and as such, lower emissions because they can be used for long journeys.
Cycling modal share in France is only 2.7% of less than 8km commute trips, 9% in Europe. We have a long way to go before replacing cars ! We don’t believe we could replace all cars but our aim is to replace it whenever a bike could be used instead.
What’s next for Smoove?
In the short term we are answering to many tenders and firmly count on many successes ! We are already working on a common bike that will gather Smoove and Zoov best know-how. In the mid-term we are raising funds to deploy even more quickly our solutions in every city.
We are also working on new services in order to answer to the evolution of biking in cities. In the long term, we strongly want to improve the environmental and social impact of our company both by multiplying our services but also by finding better ways of producing, maintaining and recycling all of our materials.