As of 2019, Bangalore is by far the global scooter sharing capital, said a report by Unu, a German manufacturer of electric scooters.
According to the Global Scooter Sharing Market Report 2019, India is the highest contributor to the global increase in the number of scooters available on a sharing basis.
Interestingly, the tech capital of India is home to almost the entire fleet of scooters available for sharing in the country making India the number one country in the world with the highest fleet size of over 15,000 in the scooter-sharing industry.
The study says India has over 20,000 scooters available on rent, as of August 2019, leaving other European countries behind. The list indicates Spain (13,520), France (8,200), and Italy (5,150) occupying the next three positions respectively.
While the industry witnessed a 164 per cent increase in the number of scooters in 2019 as compared to previous year, researchers Enrico Howe and Felix Jonathan Jakobsen said, “It’s noteworthy that almost half of this growth has taken place in India. Overall, the past 3 years have been very dynamic in terms of global scaling.”
Interestingly, almost all of the scooters in India were deployed in 2019.
Further, explaining the rise of the Indian market in the sector, the researchers added, “Two companies, Vogo and Bounce, have closed large investment rounds with strong partners and dominate the local market. Vogo gathered +100 million USD and is backed by Ola, whereas Bounce gathered another +100 million USD. Together, they brought an estimated number of almost 15,000-20,000 scooters to the streets of India.”
Incidentally, both Vogo and Bounce are Bengaluru-based, which top the Big 4 list of the same in the world followed by Madrid, Paris, and Barcelona. Both these companies also feature among the top five operators in the world.
It can be noted that the fleet size of scooters available for sharing in Madrid (6,350) amounts to less than half of the same in Bengaluru as well.
However, while almost all scooters in this sector outside India run with electric engines, scooters in India primarily run on petrol.
Why does Bengaluru opt for dockless scooter-sharing?
While Bengaluru is infamous for its traffic woes, dockless scooter-sharing has contributed towards becoming a solution for many, on an individual scale, mobility experts observe.
“Extreme situations of traffic congestion and flexibility offered by two-wheelers to find gaps in between contributes to swifter commute, which attracts users,” said Dr Ashish Verma, Associate Professor, Transportation Systems Engineering, Department of Civil Engineering, Indian Institute of Science (IISc).
He adds that bus fares being costlier for an individual than travelling on a scooter/bike in Bengaluru is another ironic reason behind the surge. “Also, a considerable amount of the floating population in the city, especially technology professionals, chose to hire a vehicle during their stay rather than buying one for themselves,” he added.
Should Bengaluru be happy for being the global scooter-sharing capital?
Even though a shift towards electric two-wheelers is in the offing in the dockless sharing platform, the increase in scooter-sharing is not a positive development for Indian cities, especially Bengaluru – experts pointed out.
Citing a recent risk analysis conducted in the city on two-wheeler driving patterns, including data from the State Crime Record Bureau, Dr Verma said that almost 98 per cent of lives lost on roads in the city were of either pedestrians or two-wheeler riders.
“The indisciplined way of driving, bad condition of roads and other factors have a cumulative reflection on the number of deaths as well as posing big threats to those riding two-wheelers. The increase in the number of scooters is also contrary to achieving sustainability goals and to encourage public transport usage,” he told Indianexpress.com.