Ofo is one of 12 companies including Lyft and Uber applying for licenses to run an electric scooter hire scheme in San Francisco. Ofo’s protracted application for a permit to run the city’s first bike share scheme was rejected by authorities, meaning the US scooter craze could be the bike company’s chance to have a visible (bright yellow?) presence in the tech center.
The quality of the Chinese unicorn’s bicycles is much derided and although the company does not yet have a scooter design, it would launch thousands of scooters in via its new scheme in summer 2018 if granted a license, as wells as e-bikes across the US, according to the head of ofo North America.
San Francisco’s steep learning curve
Ofo faces tough competition and an even tougher local authority. Five companies will be picked by San Francisco’s transport agency to join a year-long pilot, according to PitchBook. In the first six months there will 1,250 scooters on the streets and, if deemed successful, the number could be doubled for the rest of the year.
Scooter heavyweights Bird, Spin and Lime which already run e-scooter hire schemes in the city have applied as have car ride-sharing firms Lyft and Uber (via Jump, the scooter brand it bought). The other companies are Scoot, Skip, Razor, Hopr, USSCooter and Ridecell. Companies already running schemes in San Francisco were ordered to remove their scooters from sidewalks by June 4.
Chris Taylor, head of ofo North America took to Medium to declare ofo’s plans: “We’re about to kick things into an even higher gear in the US — literally and figuratively — with the introduction of tens of thousands of e-scooters and e-bikes in the summer of 2018.”
Taylor explains how the e-scooters and bikes that can be pedaled with a battery boost will fit into the range:
“While our traditional bike will remain the backbone of our dockless fleet, our pedal assist e-bikes and e-scooters serve different needs. Our traditional bikes are versatile and easy to ride; our e-scooters will be terrific for shorter, zipier trips around cities; and our e-bikes are ideal for longer trips and hilly terrains. The expanded ofo lineup will be the largest, best-built, and most reliable for consumers in the industry.”