E-scooters are set to become the newest mode of transport to take over the streets and footpaths of Auckland this month, with two companies launching fleets of the vehicles.

Bike-sharing company Onzo and San Francisco company Lime will be going head to head, or wheel to wheel, as their competing electric scooters look to combat Auckland's transport problems and create an economic travel solution.

The Herald has taken a look at both companies and what the ride-sharing businesses mean for our cities.

Lime

Lime e-scooters are being unleashed onto the streets from tomorrow, with 600 scooters distributed across Auckland and 400 in Christchurch.

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New Zealand Lime launcher Hank Rowe said NZ has been a priority market for some time following the company's success in markets across Europe and the United States.

"We have carefully considered how to maximise the benefit of our e-scooters in New Zealand," Rowe said.

"The advantage of our e-scooters is they work together with existing public transit by allowing increasing the accessibility of public transport so people can rely less on personal cars."

Despite the company marketing the initiative as an economic and green travel solution, other major cities in which the initiative is launched have questioned whether the e-scooters are really the future of transportation or a public nuisance.

Such scooters are said to have flooded the streets of greater Los Angeles and San Francisco, with people leaving the scooters everywhere, creating a mess and nuisance in the process.

Matt McNeill, Mayank Mittal and Hank Rowe trying out the new Lime e-scooters on the Auckland Te Ara I Whiti lightpath. Photo / Jason Oxenham
Matt McNeill, Mayank Mittal and Hank Rowe trying out the new Lime e-scooters on the Auckland Te Ara I Whiti lightpath. Photo / Jason Oxenham

There are also concerns about rider safety with the company not providing helmets, the vehicles being allowed on footpaths and emergency rooms reporting an influx of people severely injured while scootering.

However, Lime said it had worked closely with local authorities and the NZ Transport Agency to make sure all risks and safety concerns have been carefully considered and mitigated prior to launch.

Rowe said the issues it has been seeing around the world are teething issues and it will be working to remove those.

"The scooters can be ridden on the footpath, the side of the road and clearly marked separated cycle paths," he said.

"In terms of pedestrian safety, the terms and conditions are to ride in a suitable and safe manner and in doing so we don't believe pedestrian safety will be impaired at all.

"The scooters have a top speed of about 25km/h and the accelerator cuts off after that.

"If they were to be taken up to the higher speed, we would expect them to be used in a safe manner on the roads."

Onzo's chief growth officer, Min-Kyu Jung, says the first shipment of 500 yellow e-scooters is set to arrive by the end of October, with the rest to turn up in due course. Photo / Supplied
Onzo's chief growth officer, Min-Kyu Jung, says the first shipment of 500 yellow e-scooters is set to arrive by the end of October, with the rest to turn up in due course. Photo / Supplied

It is not necessary to wear a helmet while using the e-scooters, but the company said it encouraged users to.

Rowe said the scooters will be picked up by independent contractors each night to avoid any clutter.

"They collect the scooters every night, take them home and charge them and then deploy them in the morning."

He said NZTA has already updated the laws around e-scooters, with the instruction of a 300W limit that they have introduced for this.

Onzo

Onzo has also announced it will adding 2500 e-scooters to its existing bike-share fleet which was established in November last year - and has already seen more than 1500 of the black and yellow bikes on the streets.

Min-Kyu Jung, Onzo chief growth officer, earlier told the Herald he believes the e-scooters will revolutionise the way Aucklanders travel around the city.

"We're designing the system to make it super quick, easy, and cheap to pick up e-scooters for short journeys multiple times a day," Jung said.

An initial order of 500 e-scooters will hit the streets this month, followed by a further 2000 in the coming months.

The e-scooters have a 250W motor, and are capable of top speeds of around 30 km/h and can cover around 30 km before requiring a recharge.

Just like Onzo's bikes, the system will be dockless and users will use the Onzo app to unlock the scooters from wherever they're left around the city by the previous rider.

"Unlike bikes, e-scooters are allowed to be used on footpaths and don't require helmets.

"They're perfect to pick up anywhere, anytime, for last-mile journeys such as between the bus stop and the office."

Onzo will crowdsource the recharging of the scooters at night to the public.

"We'll be paying users to bring depleted e-scooters home to charge overnight and leave them in designated areas afterwards for other people to use," Jung said.

"With almost 80 per cent of New Zealand's electricity coming from renewable sources, riders can breathe easy knowing they're not contributing to pollution in the city.

"Electric vehicles are the future of transport and although I'm sure many of us would love to drive around Auckland in a Tesla, the reality is these e-scooters are far more efficient at getting you around downtown, plus, it's way more fun zipping around on a scooter than being stuck in a car in traffic."

According to the NZTA website, e-scooters are classed as low-powered vehicles that do not require registration or a driver's licence – providing their maximum power output does not exceed 300W.

When being used on the road, e-scooters must be operated as near as practicable to the edge of the roadway.