September 25, 2022

The first wave of electric micromobility was driven by shared micromobility companies (still largely unprofitable, bless them) – the limes and birds of the world that popularized electric scooters. Now, as gas prices rise, the world burns, and more people plan to get to and from work in an economical, sustainable, and fun way, sales of electric scooters are experiencing a rise.

The global electric scooter market size, which was around USD 20.78 billion in 2021, is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 7.8% from 2022 to 2030, according to a study. Given this huge market opportunity, private electric scooter startups are coming out of the woods with all sorts of neat little contraptions that bend and hiss and alert riders to impending danger.

I know what you’re thinking. Surely the market is already saturated and the big dogs of Okai and Segway have already covered it. But Oscar Morgan, co-founder and CEO of British electric scooter startup Bo Mobility, says the industry got the scooters wrong.

“The way scooters grew is they took the micro scooter and attached a lithium-ion powertrain to it,” Morgan told TechCrunch. “It’s almost like Tesla said, we want to make an electric car, so we’re going to attach an electric motor to a Ford Model T.”

Bo launched in Amsterdam in early June at the Micromobility Europe event, but the startup will sell its first scooters in the UK. The founders all come from automotive and engineering backgrounds. Morgan and co-founder Harry Wills met at Williams Advanced Engineering, where they both worked on programs to roll out Formula 1 technology into other products and categories. Luke Robus, Bo’s other co-founder, was working on self-driving cars at Jaguar Land Rover’s advanced design studio. Given their expertise, the team thought it would be best to build a scooter like a car – with a fully integrated chassis.

Bo’s scooter is designed with a fully integrated monocurve chassis. Picture credits: Bo Mobility

Bo’s redesigned chassis uses a “monocoque” construction technique, which is also referred to in the industry as a structural skin, and this means that all stresses and loads are carried by the scooter’s outer skin over a cross section greater than the normal tubular. or scooter frames, Morgan said. Bo calls it a “monocurve” because the scooter’s aluminum body has a constant curve from top to bottom. Notably, that means it doesn’t bend, which Morgan said was a conscious decision to maintain structural and ride integrity. But at 40 pounds, it’s light enough to easily climb stairs.

“Changing this manufacturing method doesn’t make the product cheaper, but makes it an order of magnitude stronger,” Morgan said, noting that the monocurve also allows Bo to seamlessly integrate a new generation of stabilization. and IoT technology in the scooter. “There’s an old saying that if you’re strategically strong, tactics don’t matter. And as a fundamental layout, going from that tubular construction to a true single-curve is strategically the best way to make these products, certainly at the premium level.

And the Bo scooter is premium. The startup is currently taking pre-orders at around $50 (£40), but the sale price will be around $2,435 (£1,995). Riders without a commitment can also get their hands on a scooter subscription for $84 (£69) a month.

One of Bo’s beliefs is to build a scooter that prioritizes user experience over just dazzling specs – albeit with a range of 31 miles, a hook on the neck to secure bags and smart features like GPS tracking and anti-theft, OTA and Bluetooth updates, the specs certainly hold up.

Bo Mobility scooter hook for groceries

An integrated retractable hook allows riders to secure bags. Picture credits: Bo Mobility

Bo was founded in 2019 based on the idea that existing scooter hardware has not only failed to unlock the potential of electric scooters, but has also actively prevented many people from feeling safe enough to jump on. a. To solve this problem, Bo created a system called Safe Steer, an active stabilization of the front wheels that can counter the threat of potholes and bumps in the road, to which scooters, with their small wheels, are vulnerable.

“A lot of people claim they made a safe scooter because they put a new set of tires on it or the deck got a little wider or some kind of mediocre crap like that,” Morgan said. “What we wanted to do was create a radical and profound change. So when we stabilize the direction, all of a sudden people jump on it and from all demographics, they feel very comfortable, this which is extremely important.

Another big differentiator for Bo is the lack of suspension, a feature that Morgan says is completely unnecessary for a scooter that tops 22 miles per hour. In fact, Morgan went so far as to say that scooter suspension is heavy, expensive, unreliable, doesn’t work, and is the product of companies with no better idea. All you need, he claims, is a long wheelbase, which gives the rider stable and “cruisy” steering, high-quality tires that absorb about 80% of normal road noise, and Air Deck.

close up of airlift on Bo Mobility electric scooter

Air Deck is made with an elastomer designed to absorb shock and provide a smooth ride. Picture credits: Bo Mobility

Air Deck is basically a bit of engineered elastomer that Bo attached to the deck of the 6-inch-wide, 22-inch-long deck to leave some space between the rider and the metal of the scooter.

“It’s like the soles of a [sneaker], the same way your Nikes remove heat from the pavement, it eliminates the chatter and vibration that makes the scooter exhausting to ride,” Morgan said. “When you solve that, it’s amazing how much more comfortable the scooter becomes to ride.”

When can you get one?

Bo doesn’t want to be one of those companies that promises and can’t deliver, so she’s rolling out a soft roll for a select group of UK pre-orders; those people will receive initial units later this year, according to Morgan. Early customers, he noted, will provide Bo with direct feedback to ensure a great product. Early next year, Bo plans to move into mass manufacturing and begin shipping first to Western Europe in June and then, over time, to the United States.

To keep things as green and resistant to supply chain hell as possible, Bo tries to make scooters close to the end customer. This means that the first UK units will be manufactured and assembled in the UK, and initial mass manufacturing and assembly will be done in Western Europe, said Morgan, who noted that Bo was aiming to find similar locations in the States. States as it expands.

Obviously, pre-orders will help get Bo into production, but the company will need to ramp up externally as well. Bo ended an oversubscribed pre-seed round last year and is in the middle of a seed round that aims to raise $4 million, Morgan said.