- Skip will begin voluntarily releasing quarterly reports containing data about its S3 scooters' spare part use, maintenance, recycling and disposal. The company aims to be more transparent about the true carbon impact and sustainability of its scooters throughout their full life cycles.
- Skip began publicly testing the S3 in its fleet last fall, and an extrapolation from the first two months of testing shows an average of about 4,800 scooter parts replaced per 1 million trips. That's an improvement from the older model's average of 26,000 parts replaced per 1 million trips.
- Design changes are underway that could further improve the parts replacement reduction from five-fold to twenty-fold. Results of this testing will be released in April's quarterly report.
Currently, 150 S3 models are in the Washington, DC market, constituting about 20% of the total 750-unit fleet, a Skip spokesperson told Smart Cities Dive via email. The fleet is also comprised of the older Ninebot ES4 scooters. Skip only operates in DC and its surrounding communities, including Alexandria, VA and Arlington, VA, having recently left all other markets.
Skip said its previous scooter model needed so many repairs because it was intended for personal ownership, occasional use and indoor storage, not for the sharing economy. Ensuring the fleet's safety and reliability on a large scale required hiring and training a team to charge and maintain the scooters.
The lack of robustness for the shared economy and frequent repairs are factors that gained more attention in 2019, as analyses shed more light on e-scooters' true sustainability. The scooters largely lasted only up to three months, calling into question the devices' sustainability claims and true carbon footprint. Mobility companies have since made efforts to ruggedize their devices for longer life.
Skip is taking the additional step to report maintenance and parts replacement, a main part of extending a scooter's life cycle.
"We want light electric vehicles like scooters to reduce the carbon footprint of transportation. To do this, we need to measure and report every step of the journey from manufacturing to recycling. Transparency is the first step towards this life cycle analysis and improves our accountability to policymakers, regulators, and all stakeholders," the spokesperson said.
The swappable batteries in the new units are a notable part of the maintenance cost reduction because employees do not have to gather the entire scooter and bring it back to home base for charging. The batteries can last up to 20 rides before needing a recharge, and they are designed to last for hundreds of recharge cycles before being recycled.
Recent cold-weather testing in DC has shown results of less than 20 rides, but results are expected to improve with additional hardware fine-tuning, the spokesperson said.
Mobility companies have been rather quiet about their businesses' profitability, or lack thereof. Analysts say the companies have not turned a profit so far. While in some cases the unit economics might be profitable, the devices' short lifespan has contributed to the businesses' overall unprofitability.
Skip has experienced a significant cost improvement from the S3 due to fewer repairs, the spokesperson said. The quarterly reports will start by detailing parts consumption and disposal, but eventually they will cover the company's entire carbon footprint and contain data about sourcing, manufacturing, logistics and operations.
"We are excited to share more data on our unit economics in the near future," the spokesperson said.