VOI-Electric scooter sharing firm VOI raises $30 million for European expansion
STOCKHOLM: Electric scooter sharing firm VOI Technology has raised $30 million in another fundraising round since being set up seven months ago for its European expansion and investment in research to fend off growing competition, it was reported on Monday.
Uber Technologies Inc, Alphabet and several other high-profile investors are very interested in gambling on scooter-sharing leading to rapid rise in Europe thanks to large commuter populations and lower levels of car ownership compared to USA.
Domestic startups such as Tier and Dott and U.S. rivals Bird and Lime raised thousands of dollars in 2018 to expand further into the crowded marketplace after having successfully put many scooters on European roads.
VOI is backed by investors such as BlaBlaCar CEO Nicolas Brusson and venture fund Balderton Capital. Their belief they can beat rivals by building closer relationships with city authorities gives them an edge over competitors such as Uber.
Unlike major rivals, “asking ‘permission’ before we enter new towns and cities means we can work with the authorities on the ground to offer more than just a viable alternative to cars,” CEO Fredrik Hjelm said. We could also “help people to combine their e-scooter journeys with the existing public transport network,” he added.
People can locate nearby VOI scooters via an app or maps and then ride it by paying a 1 euro unlocking fee plus riding costs of 0.15 euro per minute.
August launch has seen VOI build up over 400,000 riders, taking more than 750,000 rides, and it said it would use the new funds to expand in Italy, Germany, Norway and France.
Critics warn operators could face similar issues as bike sharing firms. Forced into price wars due to competition and facing backlash from authorities over rules and vandalism, bike operators GoBee and Mobike have retreated from Europe.