Sun, Sep 01, 2019 - Page 16 News List

Executive alumni
of biggest e-scooter firms
have a new mission

GetCharged Inc has brought on some scooter heavyweights to help it tackle the issue of the clutter caused by dumped vehicles and better manage the battery life of its scooter fleet

By Nate Lanxon  /  Bloomberg

Public hire scooters, operated by Tier Mobility GmbH, sit parked in Frankfurt, Germany, on Wednesday last week.

Photo: Bloomberg

E-scooter companies should be on top of the world: They have massive user growth, global adoption and investors happy to subsidize billions of dollars in losses.

Yet there are some major issues that plague the industry: the logistics of recharging fleets of thousands of electric vehicles every day, and city regulators considering kicking the companies out of town for clogging public thoroughfares.

A new company, GetCharged Inc, wants to tackle both problems, and has brought on some scooter heavyweights to help.

Noa Khamallah, who previously held senior posts at Lime and its European competitor Voi Technology AB, has been hired as cofounder and vice president of government affairs and global strategy, based in Paris, according to people familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified because the information is private.

GetCharged, which goes by the shorter name Charge, also now counts Caen Contee as a close adviser.

He is assisting with recruiting and fund-raising, the people said.

Contee was on the founding team of Lime, a scooter leader last valued at more than US$2 billion. Contee and Khamallah are to work alongside New York-based Dan Waldman and Andrew Fox, both cofounders of year-old Charge, and who were also early investors in Lime.

A spokeswoman for Charge declined to provide a comment for this story.

Charge, which provides cities with docks for scooters, is not the only company to tackle the complicated logistics of scooter growth. Another start-up called Swiftmile also has docks, and Lyft Inc has tested its own version.

However, right now, most scooters remain dockless, forcing companies to deploy workers to collect the vehicles and juice them up overnight — a costly and difficult undertaking.

Charge is working with design agency Boyce Products Ltd to develop the physical docking stations, one of the people said.

The structures are akin to bicycle racks in principle — scooters can be parked there when a user is finished, or when a battery needs topping up.

The company plans to encourage users to park scooters in predetermined locations visible on an app, rather than leave them anywhere on the sidewalk.

Users would be incentivized to use either the docks or the parking areas, as a way of helping companies manage the battery life of their scooter fleets, as well as reducing clutter caused by dumped vehicles that draw the ire of city officials and citizens alike.

San Francisco, for instance, balked at the scooter invasion and took swift action to curb it.

The city insisted operators such as Lime and Bird apply for operating permits, which once denied effectively resulted in a ban — although Bird is back on the road in the city thanks to an acquisition.

In June, Paris Deputy Mayor of Transportation and Public Space Christophe Najdovski said that the city was asking scooter companies to reduce the size of their fleets to help prevent sidewalk cluttering.

In the UK, scooters are not even legal to use on public roads.

The backlash has created an opportunity for a start-up like Charge to unify how scooter operators handle recharging and parking in cities.

Charge has had early-stage discussions with officials in Paris, Los Angeles, Lisbon and Barcelona, said one of the people who spoke to reporters.

It is also undertaking a limited trial of the docks in Atlanta.

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