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“Fast Lane” mobility podcast: “Scooter sharing is not a concept for the country” – Economy

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Although e-scooters are already piling up on sidewalks in some places in Berlin, Hamburg and Munich, Hamburg-based sharing specialist Wunder expects a new boom in shared mobility offerings by the end of the decade. “Market sharing is still incredibly small” and in its infancy, says Gunnar Froh, founder and head of the startup, on the Tagesspiegel Background podcast “Fast Lane.”

Even in Europe’s big cities, where carpooling is already offered “at every third corner,” currently only one percent of city trips are made with shared vehicles. There is still a lot of room for improvement. Froh predicts that the ratio could increase tenfold by 2030.

However, Corona has hit the exchange industry hard. And the war in Ukraine is also likely to leave its mark. Although he did not affect Wunder as much as the vehicle suppliers themselves, Froh also had to prove himself as a crisis manager. The 39-year-old is the founder and managing director. He had previously founded a platform for housing agencies and later sold it to Airbnb.

Competition remains high

Despite growth forecasts, competition between providers remains fierce, admits Froh. Not all survive. Some are taken over by competitors, merge, or give up. At the same time, however, new companies continue to enter the market, notes the founder. In view of the market for mobility services, Froh believes it is unlikely that a single provider, similar to Google in the field of search engines, will eventually prevail. He believes that in Germany alone, a few hundred providers will be able to hold their own.

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The fact that last mile mobility is heavily regulated by municipalities, meaning that requirements and rules differ from region to region, speaks in favor of the continued existence of a fragmented market. Local experience is required. This also poses challenges for large technology groups.

Yet to this day, the sharing industry still falls short of its own claim to offer an alternative to private cars, says Froh. “The vehicles available to date do not meet the requirements in terms of comfort and price.” No one wants to ride an electric bike in the rain, in such cases the decision often falls in favor of a private car. New concepts are needed, like the minicars already on the road in Amsterdam, reminiscent of a golf cart, Froh demands. The 39-year-old assumes that various types of new vehicles will be developed in the coming years. A combination of vehicles is required.

Cities are also called to make sharing a success

Froh: “There is a better mode of transport for each situation”, which also depends on the distances to travel. Sharing e-scooter is not a concept for the country. These vehicles are suitable for distances of two or three kilometers, which is not enough in rural areas. For shared vehicles to contribute to traffic change, owning a private car must become less attractive at the same time, for example due to rising parking fees.

In 2014, Wunder, at the time still going by the name “Wunder Car”, started out as a competitor to Uber. However, because the Hamburg authorities felt that arranging peer-to-peer travel violated applicable law, the startup moved to Asia and South America. In the meantime, Wunder has returned to Germany and has focused on the mobility software business.

The technology of the start-up with other offices in Germany and the USA is used in e-scooter, car sharing and e-moped applications. Clients include Berlin electric moped rental company Emmy, which was taken over by Israeli competitor Goto Global last year.

In addition to software, Wunder has been selling e-scooters and e-bikes for some time and has been working with a Chinese supplier for this purpose. Vehicles available to date are typically very error-prone, so those that meet the carpool requirement were designed, says Froh, justifying this step. Froh für Wunder rules out the possibility of being active again as a shared provider.

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