Europe’s $1.9 billion ride-hailing unicorn Bolt rolls out electric bikes after Uber flames out of the market

Markus Villig Taxify

Bolt, a European rival to Uber, said on Wednesday it will launch its first electric bike rentals in Paris.
The news follows Uber pulling out of the scooter and bike-sharing market with the sale of its Jump business to Lime in May.
The rollout comes as cities explore alternative methods of transport to avoid overcrowding on buses and trains, or an increase in road traffic, as lockdowns lift.
Estonian Bolt is currently valued at $1.9 billion.

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European ride-hailing startup Bolt is rolling out its first electric bike hire scheme in Paris, coinciding with rival Uber’s retreat from bikes and scooters.

Users in the French capital will be able to locate dockless Bolt bikes for hire through its app, unlock one with a QR code and then begin a ride. The bike won’t cost anything to unlock, and will cost 10 European cents per minute of hire.

Bolt was founded in 2013 in Estonia, and has grown to become a unicorn startup worth $1.9 billion after a May funding round. The company says it has grown to 30 million users across 35 markets.

The company offers similar services to rival Uber through the Bolt app, and initially grew by targeting smaller European markets and Africa. It has expanded over the years beyond ride-hailing into scooter rental, food delivery, and now electric bikes.

Bolt’s first e-bike launch follows Uber’s effective withdrawal from the electric bike-sharing market.

Uber invested in mobility service Lime in May, offloading its own bike and scooter arm, Jump, as part of the deal.

The changeover caused some public dismay after footage emerged of some remaining Jump bicycles getting pulped.

Asked if Bolt was capitalizing on Uber’s retreat, CEO Markus Villig told Business Insider that his firm had been monitoring bike-sharing for several years.

He said that when Bolt in 2017 won investment from China’s Didi Chuxing, a local ride-hailing giant that also runs a bike-sharing scheme, the Estonian startup began to look at burgeoning bike schemes such as Ofo and Mobike.

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“We saw other bike-sharing companies just exploded in China,” he said. “We saw these bike-sharing programmes were at least as large as the ride-hailing industry.”

Villig felt, however, that bike-sharing wouldn’t necessarily succeed in Europe at the time. He was somewhat right — both Mobike and Ofo collapsed in Europe.

As for the Uber withdrawal, he said: “It’s a lucky coincidence. The lead time to order bikes is months, it’s not like we made this decision after we heard of Lime and Jump’s merger, but definitely this does give us a better opportunity. There’s a chance for us to do better and scale it meaningfully to more European cities.”

Bolt claims to be consistently cheaper than the competition, and has promised to continue undercutting its rivals in its quest for growth. For comparison Jump’s electric bikes, before the current pause, cost 1 euro to unlock and then 15 cents per minute of hire compared with Bolt’s launch price of 10 cents per minute.

For cities, the arrival of yet another mass bike-sharing scheme may be …read more

Source:: Business Insider – Tech

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