Lyon's love for electric scooters
April 28, 2019Ideas
I left Paris and France in mid 2016 after graduation to come live in Berlin. I have never lived in Lyon, and to be honest I don't know the city really well. But last weekend, I attended a wedding there and I was really surprised by Lyon's love for electric scooters.
Trotinnette or Electric Scooter
What is a scooter?
Before we carry on, I must admit my confusion as a Frenchman around the usage of the word scooter. For Google — and other American English native speakers I'm sure — scooter means two things at once, while in french we have two different words for them. There is on the one hand the “light two-wheeled motor vehicle smaller than a motocycle” (scooter in french) and on the other hand the “child’s toy consisting of a footboard and a long steering handle” (trottinette in french). In the rest of this article, I will actually discuss Lyon’s love for electric trottinettes.
Lyon is not the only one
Mobility is a really interesting space in 2019. In the last few years, I've seen bike sharing (Velib in Paris) and car sharing (Autolib in Paris) evolve into services where you can park anywhere (Mobike and Drive Now in Berlin respectively). Last year in Berlin electric scooters (as in the french scooter) popped up too (Coup in Berlin). The job market followed the trend and suddenly I had friends working for ride-sharing platforms (Free2Move in Berlin). But it's in Lyon that I properly discovered electric trottinettes.
Yes, people use them a lot. Yes, people drive them with no concern for pedestrians' security, using sidewalks or streets at their convenience. I had heard of all that from other cities. But the really mind blowing thing was that in a matter of 30 minutes, I could count not less than seven different e-trottinette brands, and I probably missed one or two.
Plethora of Brands
[Dott] Our electric scooters do not look like any other! They are designed with different colour combinations to better fit into the urban landscape.
The physical products look (almost) identical
Indeed, they don’t look like each other at all. Some of these brands make bold statements like “reimagining smart mobility” but to me it seems rather that we’re reinventing the wheel. I’ll acknowledge here that I have not downloaded any of the 7 apps, and thus I am commenting only the physical part of those products, ignoring the fact that those brands may differentiate themselves via the app UX, or the scooter’s autonomy…
Apart from the products looking almost identical, I was also surprised by the branding overdose I had while walking around in Lyon. Flashy colours, catchy (english) names (“Bird” and “Wind” really ?!). Later, when I came home and looked for the brands’ websites, I was not disappointed. The domain names are “trendy”: tier.app, bird.co & wind.co and of course li.me — kudos for fitting a pun into your domain name. To be fair, three brands had .com websites and one even looked “normal” (voiscooters.com) but two of them had to add a verb : ridedott.com and goflash.com …
Beyond the domain names, I was also not disappointed by the landing pages themselves, and of course their traditional stock images.
Startupy branding overdose
Enough with the sarcasm. I actually had quite some fun walking in Lyon and counting the e-scooter brands. And comparing their websites was a great exercise. Indeed, what would you do if you had to release one more of these brands?
What Would be the Branding of Your E-Trottinette Startup
As a parting thought, I can’t help but think about these pictures from bike-sharing cemeteries in China. The (probably upcoming) concentration of the e-trotinette market could have the hidden side-effect of creating similar e-trotinette cemeteries.
No, those are not flowers, but bicycles in China
As of writing, e-scooters are forbidden in Berlin. But law is in the making to allow them. It will be interesting to see if the e-scooter Cupid shots Berlin like he shot Lyon.