Bird, one of the largest electric scooter sharing companies in the United States, introduced their new electric scooter today. The Bird Zero is a custom designed electric scooter that will become the heart of their dockless electric scooter sharing program.
Bird rents electric scooters across dozens of cities in the US and Europe.
Until now, they’ve exclusively used the Xiaomi M365 electric scooter, which is manufactured by Ninebot.
The scooter is a good quality consumer level scooter which we reviewed here.
However, it was never meant to be a commercial vehicle. Despite making a few small modifications, such as removing the folding mechanism and adding a GPS tracking unit, Bird was essentially using consumer level scooters for commercial level vehicles.
The new Bird Zero electric scooter
But all that changed with their announcement today of the new Bird Zero electric scooter. The scooter is designed to be more rugged and capable of withstanding the heavy use of commercial vehicles.
According to the company:
“Rolling out to markets throughout the U.S. during the coming weeks, Bird Zero is designed to meet the demands of Rideshare 2.0 by providing riders with more battery life for longer range, better lighting for increased visibility, and enhanced durability for a longer life-span”
The Bird Zero features 60% more battery capacity than the previous M365 scooter used by Bird.
The Bird Zero also features solid tires instead of air filled tires, and uses a longer wheelbase with a lower center of gravity to create a more stable riding platform.
Previous Bird scooters did not have battery indicators or speedometers, a feature found on scooters owned by their biggest competitor, Lime. However, the new Bird Zero electric scooters will feature both.
The speed of the Bird Zero will be comparable to that of the current Bird scooters at approximately 15 mph (25 km/h).
According to Travis VanderZanden, the CEO and founder of Bird:
“Bird was started as an experiment to test whether people would give up short car trips for environmentally-friendly rides on shared e-scooters. One year in, we have learned that we are solving a significant challenge for riders and cities who want to get cars off the road and carbon out of the air. Our new ruggedized e-scooter fleet delivers riders a more reliable and longer-lasting ride.”
Today was a big day for Bird announcements. In addition to the Bird Zero, the company also announced their new all-day rentals.
One of the most annoying things about using a dockless electric scooter is riding it to a location such as a restaurant or shop, then getting stranded when someone nabs the scooter while you’re inside.
To solve this issue, Bird has unveiled their all day rental service called Bird Delivery.
The service will deliver a Bird Zero scooter to customers by 8 AM. The scooter is theirs to use throughout the day, and no other Bird customers can rent that scooter.
According to VanderZanden:
“Since launching, we are continually inspired by riders who opt for Bird rides over traveling by car, and share in the pain of riders when they express frustration about not having consistent and reliable access to Bird. With Bird Delivery, we are aiming to address this pain point by guaranteeing they have access to a Bird when and where they need it and throughout the day.”
Unfortunately, no pricing details for Bird Delivery have been announced yet.
I think that both of these announcements are positive and beneficial for the company and consumers.
Electric scooters that are used daily as part of scooter sharing services get beat up and abused. I was riding a Lime scooter today that looked fine when I scanned it to start my ride, but the rear bumper fell off as soon as I started driving. I ended up dragging the bumper for the entire trip as it dangled by the tail light wire.
When nobody owns these scooters, nobody cares for them. For that reason, you can’t get away with consumer level gear.
The new Bird Zero scooters look like a much better solution for scooters that are getting used all day, every day.
The Bird Delivery service also sounds promising. According to my Lime app, I spent 57 minutes riding scooters on 3 separate trips around Paris today. What it doesn’t track is how long I spent walking around looking for those scooters before I could start riding. I’d guess that was probably 30 minutes or so.
I would have loved the option to have an all day rental so that the scooter was waiting for me in the morning and I could rely on having it there throughout the day.
However, I’m a bit worried about how much this service is going to cost. In principle, the idea sounds good. But I also worry that it will be an expensive cash grab that removes a bunch of scooters from the available pool and reserves them just for those with enough money to pay for the convenience.
Once Bird releases the pricing info, I’ll be able to decide whether the service seems worth it for me.