Singapore-based e-scooter company Beam says it expects to launch in Auckland in a matter of weeks and is eyeing further expansion into Dunedin and Hamilton.
The company focusing on micro-mobility in the Asia Pacific region was last week named one of four companies, including Flamingo, fellow Singapore-based Neuron and Jump by Uber, to be granted a six-month operating license in the city by Auckland Council. It has been given permission to operate in the all three zones of the CBD, outskirts and suburbs.
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Beam plans to have about 880 of its electric scooters on Auckland streets by the end of January, but will initially launch this month with a couple of hundred.
Its e-scooters are en route from Singapore currently. Exactly when the scooters will roll out for riders in Auckland will depend on shipping and customs, Christopher Hilton, vice president of corporate affairs at Beam, told the Herald.
Beam already operates about 300 e-scooters in Christchurch, and charges $1 to unlock the vehicle and 30 cents per minute. Hilton said the price would be slightly higher in Auckland, but the price per minute was not yet finalised.
The company, which is a little over a year old, applied for a licence to operate in Auckland last year but was unsuccessful.
Auckland would be the first city in the world to operate an entire fleet of its newest, third-generation scooters, Hilton said.
The third-generation scooters have bigger wheels, a sturdier standing board and an advanced breaking mechanism, a bell built into the handlebar and a light, he said.
"The industry has moved from a place where the early versions of these vehicles were essentially retail scooters. What's rolling onto the ground now, and with the Beam Saturn, is custom-built for sharing.
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Hilton said Beam's scooters have almost three times the lifespan of Uber's Jump scooters, which are said to have a lifespan of six months.
Auckland Council said in its announcement that it had granted Beam, Neuron, Jump and Flamingo operating licenses, and dropped Lime and Wave scooters, on safety grounds.
Beam wants to operate in the market for much longer than six months, Hilton said. To do this, he said Beam planned to establish multiple safety training centres in Auckland to teach people how to use the scooter safely in return for rider credits.
The company has already launched pop-up training centres in Seoul, South Korea, and is gearing up to launch these in Adelaide. It also operates in Kuala Lumpur and Taipei.
Hilton said Auckland Council had raised concerns about drink-riding. A proposal included in its application to combat this was to reduce the number of vehicles in operation on Friday and Saturday evenings and to implement auto-controlled speeds during certain hours.
"At times where there is a high likelihood of scooters being misused we won't have them available for service. We can also do things like control the speed, drastically lower the speed at 11pm on a Saturday night, so there is both less interest in riding the vehicle but also the ability to control them a bit easier," he said.
"Challenges that other operators have faced in Auckland over the past year have been safety issues and we want to make sure that we do everything in our ability to be proactive about responding to those, and showing our commitment to being here in the long term.
Auckland, being the country's largest city, had "always been a high target" for the company, and New Zealand would grow to become an "important market" for Beam, he said.
"I think there's good opportunity for us to be present in a number of other cities, there really is only one operator that has gone to some of the smaller locations so we're definitely having conversations with places like Dunedin and Hamilton."
Beam has had around 50,000 rides in New Zealand until now.