Bird, the electric scooter startup that helped spark the upsurge of shared micro-mobility, is redoubled efforts to develop its personal ownership of vehicles. Last weekend, the company launched a new foldable electric scooter, Bird Air, which users can purchase at a one-time price of $599. It is not the most powerful scooter on the market, with a top speed of 16 mph (25 km/h) and a range of 16 miles (25 km). But Bird Air is priced at US$599, which is much cheaper than the company’s first retail scooter, the Bird One, which sells for US$1,299.
This puts Bird Air at the same level as other mid-priced electric scooters such as Razor E Prime III or Segway Ninebot Max.
Bird Air was designed in-house by Bird's "aerospace and automotive engineers" team, and cooperated with the Chinese scooter company Okai to produce the Bird Zero scooter. They also purchased scooter hardware from Segway Ninebot.
Bird changed from leasing to selling scooters for the first time in mid-2019. When the company was founded in Santa Monica, California in 2017, its fleet consisted mainly of consumer scooters produced by Xiaomi and Segway Ninebot, which depreciated quickly. Bird loses money every time it travels, but after raising millions of dollars in venture capital, they successfully expanded the scale of operations, and then Bird also began to provide monthly rental services for its scooters.
Bird announced that it raised $75 million in its Series D financing in January last year. The company later lost a license bid for two cities in Paris and Seattle, but won one in Chicago.
COVID-19 has brought the shared scooter industry to a standstill. As scooter companies withdrew their vehicles from city streets, the number of renters dropped sharply. Bird and Lime, the two largest companies in terms of fleet size and valuation, have carried out massive layoffs and cancelled about 580 full-time positions. Uber binds its Jump bike and scooter business to Lime as part of its investment, which has caused Lime's valuation to drop by nearly 80%.
But due to the resurgence of interest in bicycles and other alternative forms of transportation, the industry is slowly recovering. As they look for a safe way to travel, city residents are also using scooters for longer trips. Last week, Lime reported that, on average, since the beginning of the epidemic, the time spent on scooter travel has increased by 34% and the distance has increased by 18%.