Ford takes a Spin at scooter sharing with $100M buyout

[Update: Axios has updated its report with more sources saying the deal could see Ford spending close to $100M to buy Spin, while another report from the NYT says Ford will invest another $100M into the company. Ford has also issued an official statement on the buyout.]

This week we heard that Lime is reportedly moving beyond electric scooters and may want to offer small electric car rentals. Now, a major auto manufacturer is jumping into the electric scooter share market. Ford has reportedly signed a deal to buy the scooter startup, Spin for a paltry sum…

As reported by Axios today, multiple sources initially said that the purchase price could be around $40 million, but it is now said to be $100M. That could prove to be a good deal for both Ford and Spin.

As noted by Electrek’s Micah Toll, with Spin standing little chance to catch up to Bird and Lime, taking the deal with Ford is likely a smart move. For Ford, picking up Spin and getting its foot into the electric scooter market for potentially as little as $100 million could be a bargain. Bird is believed to be valued as high as $2 billion. Meanwhile, Uber previously purchased Jump to rollout electric scooters and bikes in a deal thought to be worth around $100 million.

Ford shared an official statement in a blog post on Medium:

By combining our strength in automotive research and development with our commitment to connected and autonomous vehicles and our emerging software business, we are expanding our portfolio of scalable mobility solutions intended to provide a seamless transportation experience for the modern consumer.

Spin adds an exciting new offering to Ford’s mobility portfolio as we try to help our customers get places more easily, more quickly and less expensively. Using a Spin electric scooter costs $1 to rent and 15 cents per minute. Affordability, combined with ease of use and electrified power, also means scooters can help tackle challenges such as traffic congestion, parking availability and pollution. This presents a significant opportunity as research shows nearly half of all trips made in the U.S. are 3 miles or less, according to “The Micro-Mobility Revolution,” a report by Populus.

Ford’s competition

Uber shared in September that it expects more than half of its rides to be on electric scooters and bikes in ten years. No doubt, the rest of the personal EV industry believes the potential for growth is huge as US auto giant Ford jumps in the game with Spin.

It no longer seems to be enough to be either an auto sharing or scooter sharing company. You need to have both options to play in the future economy.

In related news, we just heard today that former Tesla and Apple executive, Liam O’Connor has been hired by Lyft to lead its e-bike and e-scooter sharing programs.

Here’s a recap of the whirlwind evolution in the personal EV space over the last few years:

This is fascinating. The tech-mobility companies are duking it out for your transportation dollars. Just look at what has happened over the last few years:

Uber rolled out ride-sharing.

Lyft copied Uber.

Bird created electric scooter sharing.

Lime copied Bird.

A dozen other companies copied both of them.

ZipCar wanted in on bicycle sharing so they added rentable bikes as well.

Uber wanted in on the e-bike and e-scooter sharing action so they bought Jump.

Lyft copied them and rolled out their own electric scooter sharing.

Lime didn’t like the ride-sharing companies horning in on scooters, so now they’re horning in on cars with their own Lime electric cars.

And on it goes. Where does it stop? Nobody knows!

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Avatar for Michael Potuck Michael Potuck

Michael is an editor for Electrek and the 9to5 network. You’ll find most of his writing on 9to5Mac where he covers news, reviews, how-tos, and more.