TRENDS & PREDICTIONS - MICROMOBILITY IN THE SWISS MARKET

Lime, Jump, Publibike, Smide, Bond, the list just keeps on going! It seems like many players are entering with concepts of offering convenient Micromobility solutions giving rise to the question...

How is micromobility changing? 

This article will cover three trends of Micromobility that have emerged in Switzerland.

Back to Basics: What exactly is Micromobility?

In a nutshell, Micromobility covers small mobility devices, such as bicycles and scooters. It intends to cover the need within cities to drive small distances in an efficient manner.ⁱ Often, it is referred to as the ‘last-mile problem’ - how can people move from their public transport station or car parking location to their final destination? Accordingly, Micromobility providers provide solutions by offering mobility as a service for example via mobile apps.

1. Network Effects: The Large Stay, the Small Exit

Micromobility is all about convenience and for this reason players are competing on having their network of vehicles available in as many locations as possible. The network effect here is key: the bigger a network, the more valuable it becomes for customers (it is easier to find a vehicle) and it also becomes more valuable for the operating company (more users means more revenue). This intense competition has lead to two outcomes that can be observed here in Switzerland.

Some merge to become bigger: 

A notable deal here is the 2020 investment of USD 170m of Uber into Lime.² This has enabled Lime to grow even faster, while Uber sells its bikes branded as ‘Jump’ and now has a share in the Lime company.

Some exit if they remain too small: 

O-Bike is a good example here: In 2017 there was an aggressive market entry with 600 bikes. However, only a year later, Obike had already left the market, with users criticizing the low quality of the bikes, leading to some even becoming confiscated.³ Meanwhile, recently Bond Mobility entered the scene, offering fast electric bikes with speeds up to 45km/h. Initially labeled as ‘Smide’, it was first rebranded to ‘Bond’ in 2020, however it declared bankruptcy this year.⁴

2. Going Multi-Modal

Ultimately, people are interested in getting from place A to place B. Having many apps for the same solution is not feasible for all users and in response, combining solutions  comes in two forms:

1. Booking platforms. Think about route planners. One app or website will allow the planning of trips across different mobility offerings, with the possibility to be forwarded to the different companies for the booking of the trip.

Picture: Google Maps acts as an intermodal mobility planner by suggesting that if I plan to go from the Spark Works office to Zürich main station, I can take ‘Tier’ or ‘Bird’ scooters as an alternative to going by tram. (Picture source: author)


2. Bundled mobility offerings. Think of your go-to booking apps. Offering the access of multiple services in one subscription reduces the need of handling multiple accounts. Some players offer multiple services in one App: Lime is offering bikes and scooters under its brand. A recent project on multiple stakeholders combining their services is the startup ‘Yumuv’: Swiss mobility providers cooperate to allow the booking of their services via one app subscription. As of 2021, the app is available in 3 Swiss Cities.⁵

Picture: Bikes and scooters are offered under one brand. Uber’s bike offering ‘Jump’ is getting rebranded as ‘Lime’.

3. Subscription Offerings

Subscriptions are a great way for companies to generate stable recurring revenues. For public transport most people are accustomed to having a subscription - think about SBB’s Halbtax or GA offerings. Micromobility is jumping on this trend as well. Publibike offers a wide range of subscriptions with annual fees.⁶ Similarly, scooter companies have started to offer daily and monthly subscriptions, for example ‘Lime’ with its day pass.

Picture: Lime offers daily and monthly subscriptions to customers. Picture by: author

Key takeaways

Bringing it all together, three key trends can be observed in Micromobility.

1. Joining forces

Network effect, like in many industries, is also key to success in the world of mobility. Mergers and takeovers to form even larger plays have and will continue to take place across the market.

2. Multi modality

Having more than one mobility offering on the platform, becomes increasingly important for existing players to be the most relevant for their customers. 

3. Subscriptions

By offering subscriptions, mobility companies want to keep their users engaged and almost dependent on their service. This shows how Micromobility is maturing into a new mobility offering that is here to stay.

What’s Next

Mobility is one of the key areas we focus on here at Spark Works.
Do you want to learn more about the future of mobility? 
Check out our
Future of Mobility Report 

[1] https://maas-alliance.eu/2018/07/17/how-micro-mobility-solves-multiple-problems-in-congested-cities/
[2] https://www.ft.com/content/b1c17bc1-f75e-4e4e-93cb-7ba295cd264e
[3] https://www.nzz.ch/zuerich/glosse-o-bikes-waren-tatsaechlich-schrott-ld.1459903?reduced=tru
[4] https://www.tagesanzeiger.ch/bond-ist-pleite-840519876851
[5] Yumuv.ch, https://www.luzernerzeitung.ch/wirtschaft/sbb-planen-abo-fur-zug-trottinett-oder-e-bike-und-suchen-200-tester-ld.1235685
[6] https://www.publibike.ch/en/publibike/pricing

Jonas Zaman
Researcher
Jonas holds a master in management, technology and economic and a bachelor in mechanical engineering from ETH Zurich. Having learned his Design Thinking expertise at Spark Labs, Jonas has worked in the fields of business development and digital marketing in the automotive and consumer goods sectors. He has conducted quantitative and qualitative research on E-Mobility and user preferences and enjoys giving structure to complex topics.‍
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