Scooter sharing – Welcome to the unprofitable future of mobility?!

Recent­ly, Bird, the e-scoo­ter sharing plat­form foun­ded in 2017, was valued at $ 2.3 bil­li­on. Tech giants like Uber and Goog­le-par­ent Alpha­bet, as well as some well-known ven­ture capi­ta­lists like Sequoia Capi­tal, Index Ven­tures and Tar­get Glo­bal alre­ady invested mil­li­ons in e-scoo­ter sharing plat­forms like Bird, Lime, Spin or Flash. When loo­king at future mobi­li­ty models, we tend to igno­re one thing – pro­fi­ta­bi­li­ty. Ever­y­bo­dy invests in the firm belief that this will be sol­ved even­tual­ly. Let’s chan­ge that and crunch the num­bers.

Thanks to open data from the City of Louis­vil­le (, we con­clu­de that the average pro­fit per ride is around $ 0.96 and the average loss per scoo­ter amounts to $ 271.53. City-spe­ci­fic costs for the infra­st­ruc­tu­re are not yet inclu­ded.

This cal­cu­la­ti­on sug­gests that a pro­fi­ta­ble future of e-scoo­ter sharing plat­forms may still be rather distant.

In addi­ti­on, van­da­lism is a big issue for e-scoo­ter pro­vi­ders. Peop­le des­troy them, lea­ve them around and misu­se them. This results in even hig­her costs, annoy­ed citi­zens resul­ting in repu­ta­ti­on dama­ge of e-scoo­ter sharing plat­forms and gives rise to the ques­ti­on of whe­ther peop­le are ready for sharing plat­form busi­ness models. (Plea­se see for our pre­vious ana­ly­sis of this mat­ter in the field of bikesha­ring)

Put­ting the num­bers and van­da­lism asi­de, the­re still is a poten­ti­al for e-scoo­ter sharing plat­forms as they can impro­ve the cru­ci­al last mile mobi­li­ty. E-scoo­ters might clo­se the gap when the distan­ce is too far to walk but using a car or public trans­por­ta­ti­on are too expen­si­ve, incon­ve­ni­ent or none­xis­tent.
When com­pa­ring e-scoo­ter sharing offers with bike sharing offers, e-scoo­ters are slight­ly more expen­si­ve but more con­ve­ni­ent for peop­le who can’t or don’t want the extra work­out like busi­ness peop­le on the way to a mee­ting or older peop­le. In com­pa­ri­son with ride hai­ling or taxis, e-scoo­ters are che­a­per, less asset inten­si­ve and poten­ti­al­ly bet­ter for the envi­ron­ment and traf­fic con­ges­ti­on. Even­tual­ly, we belie­ve that governments may sub­si­di­ze ser­vices like e-scoo­ters to impro­ve the infra­st­ruc­tu­re and offer citi­zens the alter­na­ti­ve to use CO2-fri­end­ly opti­ons (always assuming the ener­gy pro­du­ced comes from rene­wa­ble sources) to lower emis­si­ons. Espe­ci­al­ly in urban are­as whe­re traf­fic smog and fine dust are end­an­ge­ring the envi­ron­ment as well as people’s health.


Rainer Hoffmann

Seni­or Part­ner


Andreas Gabriels

Head of
Busi­ness Intel­li­gence


Benjamin Scher

Stra­te­gy &
Inno­va­ti­on Con­sul­tant