By on November 8, 2018

Image: Spin

We were wrong. There will be a new Ford-offered vehicle slotted below the EcoSport for the low-income/urban greenie crowd. It’s not very aerodynamic or powerful, but that won’t matter, as you’ll never own it.

Yes, it’s a scooter. A Spin scooter, to be clear, and it’s poised to mingle with Birds and Limes on a congested roadway or sidewalk near you. Ford Motor Company has agreed to buy the San Francisco-based startup for a healthy sum, all part of its efforts to break into the “micromobility” arena. A massive roll-out starts today.

First reported by Axios, Ford will allegedly pay up to $100 million for Spin, sources claim, though the company hasn’t disclosed the actual purchase price. Like its competitors, Spin allows users to rent the contraption for short periods of time — sometimes very short periods — to help get around a city. Think of “subway station to restaurant,” that kind of thing.

Ford, which recently announced the discontinuation of its low-priced passenger car models, claims e-scooters is the place it needs to be.

“We understand mobility is not just vehicles at this point,” Sunny Madra, vice president of Ford X, the company’s mobility nerve center, told Automotive News. “This is our play in addressing the micromobility business.”

Looking at the explosive growth in ridership at Spin’s rivals was all the evidence the automaker needed. “It became obvious to us we wanted to accelerate in this space,” Madra said.

While this isn’t Ford’s first attempt to break into micromobility (the company bought Bay-area bike-share startup GoBike last year), it is the largest. One hundred cities can expect to see Spin service over the next 18 months, with Detroit getting its announcement today. Currently, Spin operates in nine cities and on five university campuses.

Ford’s North American product communications manager had a message from the Big Guy ahead of the scooter’s e-Motor City launch:

 

Are e-scooters the next car, or just a faster horse? We’ll let history decide.

If it seems like Ford’s getting crunchier than an undergrad in Burlington, it’s not alone. Just last week, rival General Motors sought out the public’s help on naming suggestions for its new e-bike brand. There’ll be two types of GM bikes produced, one of them a folding unit.

Ford-owned scooters, GM-built bikes. Enjoy your car’s climate control while you can.

[Image: Spin]

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14 Comments on “Ford Taking Electric Scooters for a Spin...”


  • avatar
    gasser

    These electric scooter are a nightmare. We live near UCLA in Los Angeles and they are everywhere. The problem is that the cities can’t decide, and ENFORCE, whether they are for use in the street or on the sidewalk, In the street, kids of 12, 13, 14 buzz around on them without helmets or regards to the right of way at stop signs. (Never mind that the credit card holder who rented it, certified an age over 18.) If they use the streets, are they restricted to the bike lanes??
    On sidewalks, they knock over senior citizens like bowling pins. A trauma surgeon friend of mine says that even at 15 mph, falling from a scooter leads to serious injuries. And where are the helmets that they are supposed to wear??? Ford’s deep pockets should prove to be a boon to personal injury attorneys.

    • 0 avatar
      WheelMcCoy

      Don’t worry. The autonomous e-scooter will fix all that. :)

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      Nightmare my rear. What’s a nightmare is finding car parking in Westwood. Even motorcycle parking is being “restricted” by idiots on the commissioned make. And there are no de facto laws at all against bicycle theft. But all manners of laws against bicyclists making their own, the way horse owners did back in the civilized era.

      Birds et al, otoh, are the greatest improvement on urban mobility since at least Uber: Straight up genius application of technology to solve TODAY’s REAL transportation problems: Congestion, cost, over regulation and theft. Rather than the brain dead, resume padding, wet dream meddling which passes for “urban transportation planing” by privileged dimwits preening around pretending to be solving problems for others.

      As opposed to bikes, Birds can be hardened against rough use, hence are more suitable for rental. They are cheap as heck to build, with each component costing almost nothing. Hence not nearly as worthy of stealing. While being quick to provide a return on investment to cover what theft may occur. So they solve the theft problem.

      They’re also small and light enough to go anywhere on. Solving the congestion problem. Between cars, down alleys, in parking lots, down walkways, heck inside malls and office building hallways (or around office race tracks, after you have laid off half y9our staff….). They’re no different than the similar battery scooters of 20 years ago in that regard, which I’ve been buzzing around on ever since. Only difference is, you don’t have to drag them around when not using them, like you did back when you paid good money for your own.

      And they’re cheap. And getting cheaper as they roll out in volume from multiple competing vendors.

      As well as being harder for harassing leeches to wrap their grubby, value destroying hands around. As they are so small, innocuous and cheap, it’s hard to work up much indignation over someone just hopping one one and going for a short ride. Which goes at least some ways towards solving the over regulation problem.

      They’re just a better way of getting around our current urban dystopias than other alternatives. Like Uber, they are a bloody brilliant development of a service made possible by the development of feature rich smart phones; and the sensors, chips and batteries those have helped make ubiquitous. Nobel price in practical problem solving!

    • 0 avatar
      Mike G

      I work on a college campus and they’re very popular for scooting around, turning 15 minute walks into 5 minute fun rides for a few bucks. They mostly use the bike lanes so I much prefer them to the barely controllable ankle-crushing skateboards that are all too common on the sidewalks.

      The same in the student neighborhood next to campus where there isn’t a lot of traffic and speeds are low. I can see how they’d be dangerous though in Westwood or similar busy city streets.

  • avatar
    EBFlex

    These should make way more money than 500k plus cars per year.

  • avatar
    tylanner

    Un-licensed motorized transportation is such an obvious problem. As libertarian as the prospect is at its root, it is ripe for exploitation.

    Like with autonomous vehicle technology, the democratic advancement of our capabilities is far outpacing our commitment to regulate and enforce sensible restrictions to encourage structured progress.

    We are moving at light speed….and it is stuff like this that makes me think we need 10x more government representatives in congress and a new concept of unarmed public safety officers to make meaningful ground in regulation and enforcement.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    Those NFL players with the Nissan & Hyundai Dealerships accused of and sued for selling vehicles’out of trust are being shut down/closed.

    They were in the process of trying to open massive Honda dealership in Grapevine, Texas, humorously.

    This is the stranger than fiction economy:

    November 08, 2018 06:53 AM

    2 metro Detroit dealerships close after lawsuit targeting ex-NFL owners

    Melissa Burden
    Automotive News

    All Pro Nissan of Dearborn and All Pro Nissan of Macomb closed
    Owners include former linebackers Antonio Pierce and Jessie Armstead
    Lawsuit alleges millions of dollars in outstanding floorplan loans

    http://www.crainsdetroit.com/automotive/2-metro-detroit-dealerships-close-after-lawsuit-targeting-ex-nfl-owners

  • avatar
    redapple

    Dammit. DW pops up rarely now. And the above doesnt talk about GGM nor Chinesium nor any of the other goodies I ve grown to love.
    Dammit.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    Jim HACKett and Jim Farley strike again with absolute idiocy.

    Way to go, boys – follow every hipster move, overpaying massively for the latest trendy product/market space (that will lose tons of $$$) – just like GGM.

    Ford is going to be crushed as the now real, clear trend of slowing North American, China and European auto sales intensifies.

    MAYBE THEY CAN MAKE IT UP ON THESE SPIN RENTALS.

    • 0 avatar

      Ford overpaid much more for British “jewels” with no hope for ROI – quite opposite. That’s the nature of Ford – every successful turnaround follows with monumentally stupid decisions how to throw away hard earned cash. I guess Bill will soon start looking for the next savior after Hackman is booted out.

  • avatar
    phxmotor

    GM… Ford… for their own good… night want to do a year or so of market testing in the real world… under shell companies working under other shell companies… to fully HIDE who is behind it.
    Lest… it all becomes another … Segway…
    Which it will.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      If Segways could be made at Birds’ cost, weight and physical displacement, you just may have had a point. In an era where “The Law” is code for harassing others by privileged hacks on the make, rather than a means of allowing people to feel secure in the persons and possessions; solutions that are expensive enough to not withstand widespread theft, yet still too cheap to be registered, managed and otherwise diddled around with by the tax feeding classes, are simply nonstarters as far as rentals go.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Agreed on the Segway analogy. I had a brief stint with a Segway supplier in 2003. They eventually closed because of the over-promised sales by Segway of their transporter – a fate which befell many Segway suppliers.

      Segway never became more than a novelty in part because cities didn’t know how to classify the machine and its riders for safety and regulatory purposes, so they were/are often banned.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I guess Ford and GM rationalized this investment as being part of being in the transportation business. To me its more like these companies saw Ford and GM as a cash out–get out while the going is good and if Ford and GM are suckers enough to buy in then so much the better. These scooters will most likely be made in China as will GM’s bikes. What about making a vehicle that the millenniums can afford? Maybe this is the future being able to only afford a 10k electric scooter and bike.

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