- Two micromobility veterans have formally launched Ridepanda, a first-of-its-kind online marketplace for e-bikes, e-scooters and mopeds.
- Ridepanda offers a curated selection of e-rides available for purchase, with each vehicle vetted in the areas of durability, performance, reparability, safety and sustainability. Customers can filter through options to choose the right vehicle for their needs, and select add-ons including financing, insurance and accessories.
- Ridepanda CEO Chinmay Malaviya, a former Lime employee, and CTO Charlie Depman, formerly of Scoot and Bird, founded the site in support of industrywide efforts to reduce personal car ownership and carbon emissions in cities. The founders said e-ride ownership can "exist very synergistically" with e-ride sharing to accelerate a broader shift toward transportation electrification.
As former employees of shared-scooter services, Malaviya and Depman appreciate the value of giving consumers convenient access to light electric vehicles. Yet, the increased popularity of those services has lead to an increased demand for personal ownership, especially amid the current COVID-19 health crisis. E-bike sales alone saw a 190% jump in June 2020 compared to the same month last year, according to NPD.
Depman attributed this increased demand for e-ride ownership to cost, access and health safety. He also said shared micromobility services are limited in their vehicle offerings, and the "single form factor these companies have may not be the right one for you." By opting for e-ride ownership, consumers can select vehicles that are more suited to their needs, leading to more use in the long-term.
Ridepanda was developed to support consumers in navigating those e-ride options. Malaviya called the current online shopping environment "the wild, wild west," saying it's difficult for consumers today to find a credible website with a decent selection of affordable and safe e-rides.
Malaviya said Ridepanda was designed to follow a car dealership model to help customers "easily discover, buy and own" these vehicles. While remaining brand agnostic, Ridepanda evaluates all vehicles that appear on the site to vet them across key criteria, and to collect vehicle data that can inform the sites recommendation engine, Ridefinder.
Some leading micromobility operators like Bird are exploring vehicle offerings available for purchase. Just this week, Bird unveiled Bird Air, a foldable, high-tech scooter available for $600. Malaviya said this vehicle would fit as an option on Ridepanda, noting that he would love to partner with the likes of Bird and other operators that move into retail.
And just as the sudden advent of shared-scooter services in 2018 resulted in unforeseen challenges for riders and cities, Ridepanda acknowledges a sudden spike in e-ride ownership comes with its own set of challenges. Bike theft is one particular issue riders face in urban centers, with electric vehicles a key target for thieves due to their high value. To mitigate this, Ridepanda offers specialized insurance that consumers can add to their product purchase.
Ridepanda is also working with the likes of PeopleForBikes and the League of American Bicyclists to advocate for better policy and regulation around street use and safety. "We believe city streets belong to pedestrians," Depman said.