Electromobility Not Just for CarsSat, 09/01/2018 - 10:44
Full-electric urban mobility in Mexico may not be too far down the road. However, electric cars will not be the only participants in this new transportation scheme. Alejandro Morales, Co-founder and Administrative Director of Econduce, says electric scooters could be a suitable alternative in terms of space and emissions control.
“Four electric scooters fit in the space of a normal vehicle and one can make up to 10 trips a day on a full battery,” Morales says. Even though Mexico City, as well as other metropolises in the country, have been designed to be vehicle-centric, Morales saw an opportunity to participate in the motorbike business and at the same time, partake in the growing trend of the sharing economy. Through a mobile app, users can locate the nearest scooter, reserve it, turn it on and off, do their trip and then just drop the scooter at their destination as long as it is within Econduce’s “free-float” area. Similarly, users can always pick up and leave scooters at the charging stations available in the center and west of Mexico City.
“Between 2017 and 2018, we doubled our fleet of electric scooters to almost 500, notched over 400,000 trips and expanded our user base,” says Morales. The company plans to expand its “free float” zone beyond its current limits based on those high annual growth rate figures in terms of fleet, number of trips and user base. “We are increasing our coverage as new scooters arrive almost every two weeks,” he says. Econduce wants to grow its fleet to thousands of electric scooters to cover as much of the Mexico City urban area as possible, as well as other markets within the country. Morales expects this will also entice possible users to choose Econduce as their mode of commuting. “In 2018, we expect to at least double the number of scooters we have on the road,” he says.
The company is also impacting air pollution in Mexico’s most populous city and largest automotive market. “Our electric scooters have a positive environmental impact because they produce neither noise nor emissions,” says Morales. “Every trip on an Econduce electric bike replaces a trip by car, which translates to carbon savings of approximately 300 ton of CO2 as of 1Q18.” Moreover, the new batteries in Econduce’s bikes give them an enhanced average autonomy of up to 50km depending on the rider’s driving style, weight and whether their route is uphill.
Econduce plans to source the energy in its scooters from renewable sources in the future, which Morales considers feasible due to the low consumption levels of these vehicles thanks to their small batteries and low weight. “Our scooters weigh around 90kg and their batteries can be connected to a common socket and charge in two hours,” he says. “With the energy necessary to charge a regular electric car it is possible to charge up to 70 Econduce scooters.”
Morales says Econduce is playing a key role in disincentivizing vehicle ownership. “We are in this business because we want to improve the quality of life of our users and the quality of the environment within cities,” he adds. The company recognizes the importance of other sustainable transportation means such as walking and bike-sharing and looks forward to reaching a point when it makes more sense for people to drop their cars and choose from a variety of available sustainable mobility options according to their specific needs.
“We understand that Econduce is not the only way to commute within the city and thus we support intermodal transportation,” says Morales. Given the options, the company has decided to focus on medium-length trips, which is the segment where its electric scooters offer the best option. “Commutes ranging between 5km and 10km are Econduce’s specialty because no other alternative offers a faster or more cost-effective commute,” says Morales. “Walking is the best option for short commutes, bicycles are best for 1km trips and ride-hailing is more suited for long commutes or special cases such as rainy days.”
Mexico City’s mobility ecosystem has evolved but Morales says this has been mainly thanks to investment from private companies. The main challenge that Econduce and other private mobility companies face is getting people out of their private vehicles. “The city’s cars not only cause traffic but also a loss of productivity, as well as lack of available public spaces, health problems and damage to air quality,” he adds.