After the government announced plans to fast-track electric scooter trials in the UK, electric scooter companies are racing to take part in the upcoming experiment.
The trial was originally intended to take place in 2021, but could now start as early as next month due to the pandemic and the desire to take the load off public transport once lockdown is eased.
A number of electric scooter companies have confirmed to CNBC that they're in talks with local authorities to take part in the trials, hoping to launch rental services that allow people to hire e-scooters using an app on their phones.
Those in currently talks with the UK government are US companies Bird and Lime, as well as European start-ups Voi and Tier.
Fredrik Hjelm, the CEO and co-founder of Sweden-based Voi, told CNBC, “Right now we have an opportunity to reinvent urban transport and to increase our use of electric vehicles, bikes and e-scooters,”
Voi has been talking to Transport for London and London boroughs, as well as Manchester, Salford, Bath, Teeside, Darlington, Hartlepool, Milton Keynes, Birmingham and Edinburgh.
Lime has said it hopes to "partner with boroughs and local authorities to offer our e-scooters as soon as possible”.
Whiile Patrick Studener, head of EMEA at Bird, said, “We’ve been very fortunate to have the U.K.’s only electric scooter pilot in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Over the last year-and-a-half we’ve had MPs and city officials down to the park to see for themselves the advantages scooters – and specifically Bird – can bring to towns and cities throughout the U.K.”
“Following the government’s announcement on scooter trials, we’ve had dozens of inquiries from city officials who want to get their cities moving again; congestion and emission-free, while maintaining social distancing. We’re looking forward to further guidance from the Department for Transport on how and when we can implement our service here.”
If the trials are successful, then it's likely that laws in the UK will be updated.
It's worth noting that the trials do not currently extend to privately owned electric scooters, as they're being used to look at vehicle standards and insurance requirements.
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