Scooter and e-bike share service provider Beam has announced it will establish a research and development hub in Australia, motivated partly by variables in the legislation governing e-rideables in each of the States.
Beam, Asia Pacific’s largest micromobility operator, is yet to confirm where the centre will be based within Australia but has stated it plans to employ around 500 people at the hub, which would make it one of the biggest employers in Australia’s bike and micromobility sector.
The company says the location will “largely depend on State legislation for e-mobility for widespread use, as well as where key recruits are located”.
The Singapore-based company operates more than 5,300 bikes in 15 Australian cities and has announced it will soon bring major next-generation safety and technology upgrades to its Australian operations, after recently securing US$93 million (A$127.55 million) in Series B funding.
“We plan to invest heavily in growth in the Australian region, and will be investing one-third of the Series B round into Australia, both in expanding our team, expanding across new and existing cities, but more importantly in the roll-out and scaling of our MARS (Micromobility Augmented Riding Safety) technology,” Beam’s General Manager of Australia and New Zealand, Tom Cooper, said.
“We aim to set a new standard of micromobility technology in Australia and having a localised team will ensure we are engaging with the local community and their requirements.”
Tom Cooper – Beam
“With the differing State legislation governing e-rideables in Australia, and the need for constant innovation in our technological offerings, we see a great benefit to grow our R&D capabilities out of Australia, in close proximity to Australia’s world-leading research and commercial industries.
“Roles will be created primarily in research, engineering and product development to ensure we build tailored solutions for the local requirements.
“We aim to set a new standard of micromobility technology in Australia and having a localised team will ensure we are engaging with the local community and their requirements.
“Governments and councils have made it clear that e-bikes and e-scooters will play a key role in our city transport infrastructure and mobility future but there are still hurdles to overcome with safety and legislative requirements, which vary State to State.”
Tom said Beam planned to establish the R&D centre in mid to late 2022 and was already scaling up its Australia and New Zealand team, recruiting roles in product development, operations and other corporate functions.
5th Generation Saturn
Beam is preparing to deploy its fifth-generation Saturn e-scooter, featuring MARS technology which uses augmented reality to detect pedestrians and varying road surfaces, and to adjust the scooter’s speed accordingly.
Tom said the innovations, a first for Australia and NZ, would protect pedestrians, enhance councils’ control of city spaces for zoning and parking, and drive safer use of Beam’s vehicles.
The new Saturn scooters also feature 30cm wheels (20% larger than the average e-scooter) combined with hydraulic suspension for a smoother ride.
Their swappable batteries provide a range of 110km, double the average e-scooter battery capacity.
Beam announced its Series B funding, led by private equity firm Affirma, at the start of this month.
Affirma Capital’s managing director and co-head of ASEAN, Thuy Dropsey, said his company was deeply impressed by Beam’s engagement and partnership approach with stakeholders, including cities, communities, users and employees.
Affirma co-founder Taeyub Kim said: “Beam is equipped with highly capable management, technological agility, proven operational capabilities, and a capital-efficient expansion strategy to solidify its leadership.
“We believe that Affirma Capital’s cross-regional footprint and strong network will fuel the Company’s exponential growth. We believe Beam is well-positioned to be the category winner in Asia Pacific.”
Tom Cooper said since Beam’s last funding round in June 2020, Beam has expanded into 16 additional cities in the Australia and New Zealand region.
The company plans to use some of its Series B funds to introduce its micromobility vehicles and technology into new markets including Japan, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Turkey.
Beam has grown its top-line revenue by 15 times since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
The company announced last week it is making its debut in metropolitan Perth, launching its scooter hire service in Rockingham.
Beam already operates share services in regional WA centres Bunbury and Esperance.
City of Rockingham Mayor Deb Hamblin said the new scooter service was integral to the city’s Tourist Destination Strategy 2019 – 2024.
“The activation and development of the city’s coastal areas is an important part of our Tourist Destination Strategy 2019 – 2024 and the arrival of e-scooters will make it easier for tourists to visit 14 locations, including the Rockingham Foreshore, Mersey Point and Penguin Island, local shopping centres and several city facilities,” she said.