2022 promises to be the most significant year in Australia’s micromobility development.
The legalisation of rental scooters has occurred in all States except NSW — with a NSW trial a possibility later in 2022.
Privately-owned electric personal mobility devices were approved for public use in Tasmania and WA in late 2021, adding to Queensland and the ACT.
Victoria is likely to legalise privately-owned electric scooters in mid-2022 and NSW has suggested “trials” — we think the horse has already bolted in NSW and legalisation with quality control, education and enforcement would be a better approach.
This would leave SA and the NT as the only States not allowing public use of electric scooters.
Industry feedback suggests more than 250,000 electric scooters and personal mobility devices have been sold and are being used throughout Australia, irrespective of whether laggard States have legalised their public use.
Legalisation and wider rental fleets will drive more growth in privately-owned e-scooters.
Privately-owned e-bikes will also continue to grow at record rates. We predict over 100,000 e-bike sales in Australia in 2022.
State of Play for Rental Operators to December 2021
Neuron and Beam have been the big winners in Australia through the COVID years. Their orange and purple scooters have won every Australian tender announced in 2020 and 2021.
Melbourne has broken this nexus and Lime scooters will be appearing in Melbourne from February 1st.
Neuron and Beam have also been active in launching to regional towns as part of a land grab in scooter-legal States. Several regional towns have scooter programs in Queensland, WA and most recently Ballarat in Victoria. In January, Neuron added 150 e-bikes in Frankston.
As a result, the Violet Crumble-coloured operators, Neuron and Beam, have gained almost 100% scooter share.
Lime has maintained and grown e-bike rentals to position itself to add scooters if and when they win future tenders.
Bird has a presence in Hervey Bay but no other Australian operations.
Beyond the top three, Superpedestrian is bidding for new markets with arguably the best and most sophisticated rental scooter in the world.
Lime’s win with Neuron for Melbourne has increased its overall share of the Australian rental market to nearly 20%.
Micromobility Rental Market Outlook
Significant change is possible in 2022:
- Melbourne announced Lime and Neuron won the initial 12-month licences and will launch with 750 scooters each. We expect Melbourne to be the most successful e-scooter city in Australia. We think the initial Melbourne fleet size is too small and unlikely to meet the ‘liquidity’ needs of riders or operators. Rental scooter markets need enough scooters for riders to have one readily available. Operators need enough riders to reach their minimum viable rides targets. Too few scooters means no one is happy. We think the three Melbourne LGAs are likely to need between 4,500 and 6,000 scooters to get optimal liquidity — providing rider convenience and returns for operators.
- Perth is likely to go live on a similar scale to Brisbane, with 2,000 to 3,000 vehicles.
- Adelaide’s licences are expiring and new tenders will be required. Will Neuron and Beam retain their Adelaide presence?
- Sydney is the big unknown. While more than 50,000 privately-owned scooters are being ridden, Transport for NSW has been regressive and out-of-touch with micromobility and future transport. We are cautiously optimistic that impressive Planning and Active Transport Minister Rob Stokes will drag NSW into the future, and approve rental scooters.
We believe e-bikes will become an increasingly important part of the mix.
Lime’s Gen4 e-bike sets a new standard for large-fleet bikes.
In addition, Bird has a VanMoof-style e-bike that will turn heads — but will we see it in Australia?
e-Bikes are likely to grow as preferred rentals for longer trips and journeys needing storage for shopping or commuting. We think an increasing range of e-bikes will appear as the market broadens and different uses require alternative forms of transportation.
Even without Sydney approving rental scooters, we predict the rental market will double in vehicle numbers this year.
With Adelaide licences up for renewal, as much as 60% of the market is likely to be up for grabs. The two-horse race of 2020-21 is unlikely to continue.
We welcome your thoughts and feedback. We’ve collated data from a range of sources as no single source exists for micromobility in Australia. Any further contributions would be appreciated.
* Authors Stephen Coulter and Krystyna Weston are the founders of Zipidi Micromobility and Convenors of the Asia Pacific Micromobility Alliance
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