Upgrading to a longer-term relationship
Ok, this is a really important blog. This is a blog about relationships, aka the foundation of life on our planet.
A few years ago, hardly anyone in the Western world had ridden an ebike or an e-scooter. Sure, there were hundreds of millions of them making billions of trips every day across Asia, but in Europe and the Americas they were a virtual unknown. Strangers to us, you might say.
But then, an amazing thing happened. Seemingly overnight, thousands, and then tens of thousands, and then hundreds of thousands of these little electric vehicles showed up on the sidewalks of cities all over Europe and the Americas. They raised their little flags, and offered to carry passers-by across town. For a few dollars, virtually every city dweller across multiple continents suddenly had the opportunity to take their first ride on a light electric vehicle.
It was as if people who had never seen or driven a car before, suddenly could hail a taxi and see what these vehicles could do. And, the relationship was much like a taxi ride: you paid quite a bit considering how short the trip was, but it was convenient, basically no commitment other than the initial leap of faith, and when it was over you had no further responsibilities. Someone else bought the vehicle, licensed it (usually), maintained it, fueled it, and so on. And in the past five years or so, tens of millions of people have taken advantage of the opportunity to ride these little electric vehicles, and in many cases to be amazed at how useful they could be.
But you know what? Those single, low-commitment rides aren't the end of the story. Because, much like in any group of relationships, some people have decided that they want more. A deeper relationship. A more personal(ized) relationship. A longer-term relationship. They want to be able to bring this new partner home, not leave it at the curb. They want to wake up and know that their partner is there for them, and hasn't run off with someone else since last they were together. They want to know that the way the brakes worked yesterday is how they will work today. Ok, maybe that last part didn't fit, but you get the point.
And so we come to today: millions of people across Europe and the Americas are entering deeper relationships with light electric vehicles. Sales of e-bikes in the US shot up in 2020, from ~250,000 to over 600,000 (!!), and the pattern was similar and even greater in Europe where city-riding bike culture exists on a larger scale. All of those people are now married to whatever vehicle was (hopefully) just right for them. Let's be happy for these happy new couples!
But you know what? Marriages are a big commitment. And weddings are expensive. Not everyone can afford to buy an ebike or an e-scooter. Not everyone is quite sure what vehicle they want to get into an LTR with. And, let's say it: not everyone is quite ready to make the leap from by-the-minute rentals straight to the responsibilities that come with the marriage that is private vehicle ownership.
And guess what, it turns out that there's a middle way. A happy medium. And it's called long-term rentals. By the week or month or year, it's all on offer. Whether TheHubNYC for delivery drivers in NYC, or Swapfiets with their roughly 300,000 riders in Europe, Bloom in Paris, or Beyond or Unagi with monthly scooter rentals in the US, there are an ever-increasing number of ebikes and e-scooters available for people who want to bring a light electric vehicle home with them, have it there for them and only them every day, and yet not need to enter into the marriage of private ownership. They get maintenance included, they can cancel anytime, and they don't have to write a big check up front. It's truly the best of all worlds for many people.
FreeBike is helping make this model more accessible for more providers and more consumers. Call us a facilitator. Call us a match-maker. We believe in the power of relationships, and we're in love with all of these long(er) term relationships we see blooming between people and light electric vehicles.
So, if you are a mobility operator who wants to get into monthly rentals and longer-term relationships, or a city who wants/needs to help people move in the most affordable and flexible way possible, or a housing operator who wants your residents to love living at your property, or an employer who wants to help your employees enjoy that rosy-cheeked glow of ebike happiness with every commute, get in touch! FreeBike knows these ropes, and is here to help. Cheers to all the happy new couples, and to all the happy new couples yet to be!