Shared e-scooters going places in CBD

Telepod chief executive Gan Jin Ni with the firm's chief operating officer Louis Goh. The home-grown firm has about 20 e-scooters and more than 2,000 registered users. Its e-scooters have no docking stations but they must be returned to specific park
Telepod chief executive Gan Jin Ni with the firm's chief operating officer Louis Goh. The home-grown firm has about 20 e-scooters and more than 2,000 registered users. Its e-scooters have no docking stations but they must be returned to specific parking areas.ST PHOTO: JONATHAN CHOO

Two firms offering service plan to expand; third player joining soon

Zipping around on electric scooters could soon be the transport option of choice for workers in the Central Business District, just as bicycle-sharing has taken off in the heartland.

At least two home-grown firms have begun offering a shared e-scooter service in the CBD area over the last few months and they have plans to expand.

Telepod, which shelved plans to launch the service in Punggol, now has about 20 e-scooters at seven locations islandwide, including at Marina One in the CBD.

"We now have more than 2,000 registered users, with more than 400 completed trips," said Ms Gan Jin Ni, 27, chief executive of the 10-month-old start-up.

Meanwhile, Neuron Mobility - which last month began a shared e-scooter and bicycle trial at Singapore Science Park 1 - has tied up with Park Regis Hotel in Merchant Road to offer eight e-scooters for rent to hotel guests, beginning this week.

Park Regis marketing director Tricia Ang said she believes there is a demand for e-scooters from business travellers. "We hope to have 10 to 15 more stations in the CBD soon," said Neuron chief executive Zachary Wang, 32, adding that the firm hopes to offer about 100 scooters there.

The firm has about 2,000 registered users, with about 500 to 600 regular users.

ON THE ALERT

We are able to track the scooters in real time so when they are moved, we will be alerted.

TELEPOD CHIEF EXECUTIVE GAN JIN NI, on how the firm managed to trace four stolen e-scooters earlier this month.

Telepod and Neuron will be joined next month by a third firm, PopScoot, which intends to introduce its e-scooters at almost 30 locations islandwide.

While bicycle-sharing schemes have been prone to abuse by users, e-scooter companies said they have a system that allows them to track down missing e-scooters.

While Telepod's e-scooters do not have docking stations, they must be returned to specific parking areas.

"We are able to track the scooters in real time so when they are moved, we will be alerted," said Ms Gan, adding that Telepod managed to trace four stolen e-scooters earlier this month.

The two firms are now looking to investors to fund their expansion.

Telepod - which last year received more than $70,000 in investments, including customised e-scooters, from personal mobility device retailer Mobot - hopes to raise about $2 million in its next round of funding, while Neuron aims to hit $5 million in funding.

The start-ups' ambitions stretch beyond Singapore. "We're going to start a small trial in an Australian city next month," said Mr Wang.

Ms Gan said Telepod had received interest from as far away as France and Slovenia.

However, Telepod user Benjamin Cheh, 34, said these e-scooter services are a "bit expensive".

"They should be cheaper, like the shared bikes," added the senior graphic designer who works in the one-north area.

Neuron's e-scooters cost 50 cents per 15 minutes, while Telepod's e-scooters cost $1 for 10 minutes. An ofo bicycle costs $1 an hour.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 24, 2017, with the headline 'Shared e-scooters going places in CBD'. Print Edition | Subscribe