Reviews Three months after its launch, operator Bolt withdraws its fleet of electric bikes in Paris
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Lightning fast. Estonian group Bolt's e-bike service started up as quickly as it had arrived. After 84 days of deployment in Paris, the 500 electrically assisted bicycles accessible through the VTC app have not been available since the beginning of September. Bolt launched its fleet on July 1, a few days after the suspension of its competitor JUMP, sold by its parent company Uber to the operator Lime.
While the electric bike is more and more appreciated by users, this rapid passage on the Parisian market has something to question. In a tweet in English, Bolt's management does not provide a very clear explanation. “We are temporarily stopping our shared electric bicycle service in Paris. As the market is constantly evolving due to the impact of Covid-19, we take the time to ensure that the service we offer best benefits the city and its citizens. We are certain that shared micro-mobility has an important role to play in Paris and beyond in the future, and we will give updates when we have it. »
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We are temporarily stopping our shared electric bike service in Paris.
As the market is constantly evolving due to the impact of COVID-19, we are taking the time to ensure the service we provide is as beneficial as possible for the city and its citizens. [1/2]- Bolt France (@Boltapp_fr)
Bolt joins the long list of bike operators who have left Paris (Gobee Bike, oBike, Ofo, Oribiky, Donkey Republic and Mobike). This summer, the JUMP service returned to Paris, via the Lime app, but with a thousand electric bicycles, against nearly 5,000 at the height of 2019. However, while the practice of cycling has exploded since deconfinement , Bolt seemed to believe in the viability of the Parisian market. “Many of the missing free-floating services were conventional, non-electric bicycles, underlined Henri Capoul, manager of Bolt in France. We believe in the enormous potential of Paris, with its 1000 km of cycle paths, for a solid electrically assisted bicycle. We have already mastered the operational aspect, with mobile teams who will change the empty batteries. "
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Maintaining a fleet is" very expensive "
In the past, certain operators have justified their departure from Paris by invoking the" vandalism "of which vehicles are allegedly victims in public spaces. Others confide that offering a fleet of solid bicycles comes at a cost, and that the low-end machines deployed had little chance of survival ... “A self-service bicycle service, especially electric, requires robust equipment and real operational know-how to repair and maintain the fleet. All this is very expensive, ”analyzes a French observer of shared micro-mobility.
Despite growing interest from users in electric mobility, operators are therefore struggling to find a winning formula to amortize their investments and reap profits. In order to reassure their shareholders, Bolt, like Uber before him, intends to develop a multimodal strategy, offering VTCs, scooters, bicycles or scooters in the same app, for races of different distances.
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But with the global Covid-19 crisis, whether for bicycles or scooters, the economic model of micromobility services is even more fragile. Industry leaders Lime, Uber and Bird have laid off a large chunk of their workforce. In Paris, the absence of tourists, who represent up to 40% of trips made by scooter, is very penalizing. In this context, shareholders are asking that all unprofitable activities be put on hold.
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