- UK retailers report sales leap by 50% during 2019
- Searches for e-scooters climbed by 171% on news of a forthcoming Government consultation
- UK remains one of only three countries in EU to not make e-scooters legal
- Transport chiefs under pressure to speed up review of e-scooters
London, 3 February 2020 – One of Europe’s fastest growing e-scooter operators has urged UK ministers not to delay legislation to allow e-scooters on the roads, since strong Christmas sales of the electric vehicles suggests that many new riders will take to the streets this spring.
Voi’s chief executive Fredrik Hjelm said: “We welcome the UK government’s commitment to innovating transport and we will participate fully in the forthcoming consultation. However people are already buying and riding e-scooters, regardless of whether the law is changed. The Government urgently needs to complete its review because until there is legislation, there is no way to insist on safety standards, higher quality scooters or reinforce good behaviour.”
“Our experience in other major cities in Europe has shown us that where e-scooters are regulated well by local authorities that understand the popularity of this new form of transport, it encourages safe and responsible usage. It’s time for legislators to take action and begin to control a new form of transport that is already growing faster than authorities’ ability to restrict it.”
Figures released by a handful of e-scooter retailers in the UK suggest that the scooters – which remain illegal to ride on UK roads and pavements – were a popular gift this Christmas. Colchester-based Micro Scooters saw sales jump by 50% during 2019, with enquiries rising by 70% compared to 2018. Halfords said that sales of electric bikes and electric scooters jumped 96% year on year in the 14 weeks to 3 January, indicating the soaring popularity of the new vehicles.
Retailers have been cautious about revealing exact sales figures but Micro Scooters said it expects this rise to continue into 2020, forecasting its electric scooter sales will hit the “tens of thousands” over the next 12 months. By 2030, McKinsey similarly forecasts exponential growth, sizing the market at $150 billion in Europe alone, and $700bn globally1.
The Government is likely to launch its consultation on e-scooters this month, with a period for trials in cities across the country soon after. National legislation allowing the e-scooters to travel on roads and in bike lanes is likely to follow if the pilots are considered a success.
Increased sales of e-scooters in the UK in the run-up to Christmas is part of a wider trend being seen across Europe. Between January and November last year, sales in the two-wheeler electric market soared by 64%2 compared to 2018. E-scooter sales doubled in 2018.
The UK is considered the largest potential market for e-scooters in Europe, after Germany, and the Department for Transport launched a review of regulations on personal light electric vehicles in March last year. By indicating that consultation will start this month the UK government is taking the first step towards legalising e-scooters, joining most of the rest of Europe including France, Spain, Germany and Scandinavia.
While the UK is one of only three countries in Europe where e-scooters are not allowed on public roads, cities are taking a variety of approaches to regulation. In 2020 more cities are expected to follow Marseille and Paris in pushing forward with tenders to operate scooters, which will see two to three companies win the right to operate in a particular town.
Voi, which was founded in Stockholm in 2018, favours regulation that imposes higher standards and requirements on responsible operators and is currently bidding to win tenders to operate e-scooters in some of Europe’s biggest cities including Paris. It has already picked up contracts in Bremen and Marseille, where regulation of e-scooter provision is leading to growth in usage by riders.
In 2020, Voi hopes to see more European cities become car-free and dedicate more space to cyclists and e-scooters, as has already happened in Oslo, where there was just one fatality from a road traffic accident in the whole of 2019.
The Swedish company, which has raised $168m from investors including from UK-based venture capital funds Balderton Capital and LocalGlobe, is working closely with city councils and mayors across the UK, to work out how e-scooters can be safely and responsibly used on UK streets. The Republic of Ireland and Holland are also expected to bring forward legislation to enable e-scooters to be used on the roads this year.