The first wave of electric micromobility was led by the shared micromobility companies (still largely unprofitable, God bless them): the Limes and the birds of the world who popularized electric scooters. Now, as gas prices rise, the world burns, and more people consider commuting to and from work in an affordable, sustainable, and fun way, sales of electric scooters are on the rise.
The global e-scooter market size, which was around $20.78 billion in 2021, is expected to grow at a CAGR of 7.8% from 2022 to 2030, according to a study. Given that huge market opportunity, private e-scooter startups are emerging out of the woodwork with all sorts of little gadgets that fold and buzz and alert passengers to impending danger.
I know what you’re thinking. Surely the market is already saturated, and the Okai and Segway big dogs already have it covered. But Oscar Morgan, co-founder and CEO of UK-based e-scooter startup Bo Mobility, says the industry has gotten scooter manufacturing wrong.
“The way scooters grew was they took the micro-scooter and strapped a lithium-ion drivetrain to it,” Morgan told TechCrunch. “It’s almost as if Tesla said, we want to make an electric car, so we’ll strap an electric motor to a Ford Model T.”
Bo launched in Amsterdam in early June at the Micromobility Europe event, but the startup will be selling its first scooters in the UK. All of the founders come from the automotive and engineering industries. Morgan and co-founder Harry Wills met at Williams Advanced Engineering, where they both worked on programs to implement Formula One technology in other products and categories. Luke Robus, Bo’s other co-founder, used to work on autonomous cars at Jaguar Land Rover’s advanced design studio. Given his experience, the team thought it would be better to build a scooter like a car, with a fully integrated chassis.
Bo’s redesigned chassis uses a “monocoque” construction technique, which is also known in the industry as a structural skin, and means that all stresses and loads are carried by the outer skin of the scooter at a larger cross-section than the outer skin. regular tube. or box scooter frames, Morgan said. Bo refers to it as a “monocurve” because the scooter’s aluminum body has a constant curve from top to bottom. Notably, this means it doesn’t fold, something Morgan said was a conscious decision to maintain ride and structural integrity. But at 40 pounds, it’s light enough to easily climb some stairs.
“Changing this manufacturing method doesn’t make the product cheaper, but it does make it an order of magnitude stronger,” Morgan said, noting that the monocurve also allows Bo to seamlessly pack a new generation of stabilization and IoT technology into the package. scooter. “There is an old saying that if you are strategically strong, tactics don’t matter. And as a fundamental design, going from this tubular construction to a true monocurve is strategically the best way to make these products, certainly at the premium level.”
And premium is the Bo scooter. The startup is currently taking reservations for pre-orders of around $50 (£40), but the asking price will be around $2,435 (£1,995). Riders without commitment can also get a scooter subscription for $84 (£69) per month.
One of Bo’s credentials is building a scooter that prioritizes the user experience rather than just a flashy spec sheet, albeit with 31 miles of range, a neck hook to secure bags, and smart features like GPS tracking and anti-theft. , OTA and Bluetooth updates, the specs certainly hold up.
Bo was founded in 2019 based on the idea that existing scooter hardware has not only failed to unlock the potential of electric scooters, but has also actively prevented many people from feeling confident enough to get on one. To deal with this, Bo has created a system called Safe Steer, an active stabilization of the front wheels that can counteract the threat of bumps and potholes in the road, which scooters are vulnerable to, with their small wheels.
“A lot of people claim they created a safe scooter because they put a new set of tires on it or the deck got a little wider or some mediocre shit like that,” Morgan said. “What we wanted to do is create a profound radical change. So when we stabilize direction, suddenly people jump on it and from all demographics, they feel very comfortable, which is profoundly important.”
Another major differentiator for Bo is the lack of suspension, a feature that Morgan says is totally unnecessary for a scooter that tops 22 miles per hour. In fact, Morgan went so far as to say that suspension on a scooter is heavy, expensive, unreliable, doesn’t work, and is the product of companies with no better idea. All you need, he argues, is a long wheelbase, which gives the rider stable, “cruising” steering, high-quality tires that absorb about 80% of normal road noise, and Air Deck.
Air Deck is basically a bit of engineered elastomer that Bo attached to the 6-inch-wide, 22-inch-long deck to leave some space between the rider and the metal of the scooter.
“It’s like the sole of a [sneaker], so in the same way that your Nikes remove heat from the pavement, this removes the noise and vibration that really make scootering exhausting,” said Morgan. “When you figure that out, it’s amazing how much more comfortable the scooter becomes to ride.”
When can you get one?
Bo doesn’t want to be one of those companies that promises and can’t deliver, so it’s doing a soft launch for a select group of UK pre-orders; those people will receive starter units later this year, according to Morgan. Early customers, he noted, will provide Bo with direct feedback to help ensure a great product. Early next year, Bo plans to move into mass manufacturing and start shipping first to Western Europe in June and then eventually to the US.
To keep things as green and resilient to supply chain hell as possible, Bo is trying to make scooters closer to the end customer. That means the initial UK units will be manufactured and assembled in the UK, with initial mass manufacturing and assembly in Western Europe, Morgan said, noting that Bo is aiming to find similar locations in the US. USA as it expands.
Obviously, pre-orders will help get Bo into production, but the company will also need to raise funds externally. Bo ended an oversubscribed seed round last year and is in the midst of a seed round that aims to raise $4 million, Morgan said.