10 Apr 19

Why Madrid now is Europe's e-scooter capital

The Spanish capital is ground zero for not one, but two major launches of e-scooter initiatives: by Uber and Seat. It's a confirmation of Madrid's status as Europe's e-scooter capital. In February alone, the city granted 8,600 licenses for shared e-scooters.

Uber has picked Madrid as the first European city in which to launch JUMP, its electric scooter service. The company has deployed a total of 566 e-scooters throughout the various neighbourhoods of the Spanish capital. 

Introductory offer
Users can rent the kick scooters directly from the Uber app. The fee is €1 to unlock the vehicle and thereafter €0.12 per minute. However, as an introductory offer, the first 10 minutes will be free during the first month. 

“This is the first step of our vision for Madrid and hundreds of cities around the world – to become platforms where users can choose how they want to travel based on their needs and can combine various modes of transport in one single journey,” says Christian Freese, CEO (EMEA) for JUMP by Uber.

Mobility startup
But Uber is not the only major player to get into the e-scooter business in Madrid this month. Spanish car manufacturer Seat has teamed up with mobility startup UFO to distribute 530 eXS electric scooters. 

The deal was made between UFO and Xmoba, a Seat subsidiary dedicated to developing new mobility solutions. Users can unlock the e-scooters by scanning a QR code. The service costs €1 per rental and €0.15 per minute of use. 

The eXS is powered by Segway but produced by Seat itself. Since its launch in December, the brand has already sold some 5,000 units of the scooter. “It's our first product designed specifically to facilitate urban mobility,” says Lucas Casasnovas, Director of Marketing at Seat. “The deal with UFO confirms our commitment to micro-mobility and is our first foray into 'kicksharing'.”

Crowded field
UFO for its part has great ambitions: to revolutionise urban mobility, not just in Madrid but soon also in other European cities. But why is Madrid attracting so much attention from e-scooter startups? Because, in the words of Mr Freese, “the city is committed to new mobility alternatives that replace the use of private vehicles.”

By no means are Uber and Seat the first players. In fact, the field is already quite crowded. Other players in the e-scooter business in Madrid are Lime, Eskay, Taxify, Scoot, Rideconga, Mobike, Flash, Ari, Tier, Alma, Wind, Motit4u, Koko and SJV Consulting. In all, Madrid has received applications for more than 110,000 e-scooters. In February alone, it granted licenses for no less than 8,600 shared e-scooters, to a total of 18 companies. 

Strict rules
Under the Madrid Central Alternative Means of Mobility Plan, the city actively encourages alternatives to mobility by cars, the city maintains a strict set of rules. Not all licenses are granted, for instance, and the e-scooters are banned from sidewalks, bus lanes and streets with more than one lane in each direction. They are limited to a speed of 30 km/h and must give right of way to pedestrians. 

Madrid's embrace of e-scooters is not uncontroversial. At the end of last year, a 90-year-old pedestrian was killed in a collision with an e-scooter.  The city then temporarily halted e-scooter service, accusing the then three main providers (Lime, Wind and VOI) of not abiding by the speed limits and other restrictions. 

Authored by: Frank Jacobs