If you wonder who is the biggest producer of electric scooters and how the market’s demands got so large, you can find more info here. Currently, a Beijing-based company named Ninebot is the biggest manufacturer of e-scooters as it provides scooters for most of the scooter sharing systems.
Ninebot witnessed a great increase in their number during the last year. Only the scooters sales sector increased 6 times and the company representatives said that 80% of the electric scooters now in use worldwide are from the Ninebot factories. According to inside sources, the 6-year-old company values now more than $1.5 billion.
Ninebot was experienced enough in the manufacturing process when the e-scooters market reached its peak. The company’s ability to manufacture and ship the scooters in large numbers made it the best option.
Ninebot in numbers
Ninebot carries out its activity in 3 factories and currently has more than 3,000 employees, including the assembly line workers. Also, it plans to hire approximately 400 people next year, mostly for the research and design departments. Nowadays, some of the employees commute to factories using Ninebot devices or even drive them around the vast campus.
Ninebot’s lucky situation
The idea of a vehicle sharing system was already intensely discussed in the tech industry when Ninebot closed the deal with Segway. Companies such as Uber and Didi were already investing a lot of money into a future which is not depending on individually owned cars.
However, Ninebot didn’t have any certain information stating the same economic model could be applied for electric scooters. Nobody from the company was expecting the sharing business to have such hyper-growth.
You could say that Ninebot was extremely lucky when it became the biggest electric scooters producer. According to a former executive, the firm was investing money in almost 10 different vehicle forms ahead of the scooter’s market explosion.
One of these models was not fitted with handlebars so users had difficulties when they tried to get off. Even after adding handlebars, Ninebot was not extremely confident about its product and what people will think of it.
As competitors are racing each other to be the first renting service provider in big cities, the demand for e-scooters got bigger and bigger. So operators are now pressuring manufacturers to produce scooters with a longer period of use, better water resistance, and improved batteries.
With more and more firms offering the same service, operators are willing to pay more for scooters that will set them apart from their competitors. However, it’s difficult for operators to advertise their scooters as the best when every one of them is buying from the same place.
The micro-mobility movement
The micro-mobility vehicles revolution is now going outside the Chinese borders. Thailand, Netherlands, France and other European markets are starting to adopt this new form of transportation.
The Global investment in these types of vehicles is estimated at $1.4 billion, of which approximately $850 million is in the Asia Pacific. While some countries are just getting ready for future transportation forms, Asia is already there and the way is lead by electric scooters.
The e-scooters’ impact
For authorities, the electric scooters help reduce exhaust fumes, especially in countries where the motorcycles or scooters are the most common vehicle.
In China or India, the two-wheeler vehicles with internal combustion engines are often blamed for the high level of pollution. China is not only the world’s biggest market for electric motor scooters, but it is also by far the biggest producer of e-scooters.
The U.S. market for e-scooters
The e-scooter movement started last year when the sharing system was launched in Santa Monica, California, representing the take-off for the capital-fueled micro-mobility industry. Investors quickly poured in hundreds of millions of dollars, giving the operators the chance to extend their business.
Some of the companies raced to launch an electric scooter of their own but most of them choose to import them. So all this business went straight to Ninebot as it quickly became the number one supplier.
E-scooters in American cities
However, things didn’t go smoothly for the electric scooters producers as they sometimes found some opposition from city officials. Rental scooter services have flooded big cities with a big number of electric scooters and they quickly became popular.
City officials tried to keep up with the scooter invasion and in some cases, they limited the maximum number of scooters allowed on streets. Also, they permitted only one or two companies to deploy their scooters on city streets.
In some cities, electric scooters were completely banned as they caused several issues. Because the e-scooters could be parked anywhere, a lot of them were blocking the sidewalks, access platforms or parking spaces. Setting up shop without asking for permission irritated the local authorities so they wanted to demonstrate who is in charge.
Furthermore, the sales have now a period of decline after the cut of government subsidies. U.S. President Donald Trump pushed up taxes on electric scooters imported from China and the European Union plans to impose import duties on low-price Chinese e-scooters.
Why city officials are not fans
Despite being so convenient to use, electric scooters pose a safety risk. Shortly after the scooter sharing system launch, the number of people getting to the ER because of them took everyone by surprise.
Customers are not experienced enough or simply drive recklessly through traffic or they are speeding on sidewalks. As a result, they hit other cars, cyclists, and they fall over on the hard street surface and sometimes the fairly heavy electric scooter might crush them.
Market’s increasing demand
After the renting service was available in big cities, the operators kept needing more and more scooters. Because of the initial success, they wanted to expand as quickly as possible. Currently, you can rent a scooter in almost 65 cities across the U.S.
But there was an additional cause to the big number of shipments from China. Electric scooters were stolen or vandalized as videos of people throwing scooters from buildings or setting them on fire became viral.
Also, a big number of electric scooters got towed away by local authorities. So operators decided it would be cheaper to buy new electric scooters than paying to get the scooters back. Not even big fines seemed to scare away the companies battling for the best market position.
Despite the initial enthusiasm, not everything went smooth for the service provider and the e-scooter supplier. One of the renting companies recalled almost 2,000 vehicles in November 2018. Although it might seem a big number of faulty vehicles, these are less than 1% of the company’s e-scooters.
It happened before
The situation remembered customers of the skateboard-style conveyances known as hoverboards. It happened 3 years ago when some of them suddenly caught fire without any warning. It certainly altered the client’s trust and the e-scooters might be next to lose the customer’s interest because of safety concerns.
Who is to blame?
The renting company quickly blamed a manufacturing mishap made by Ninebot. However, Ninebot isn’t a small player on the electric scooter’s market so it should have plenty of experience.
Lately, Ninebot was the main provider for almost everyone trying to get involved in the micro-mobility movement. In a business that intends to modify the urban transportation, Ninebot has the highest chance to be a major part of it.
The company’s CEO insists that Ninebot is not the one to blame for the accidents involving electric scooters. Three days after the scooter’s recall, Ninebot issued its own statement faulting the renting company.
The statement advised scooter drivers to take into account the operator’s safety record. Also, the Ninebot representatives considered the maintenance service was made by unprofessional teams.
The Ninebot-Segway relation
Ninebot was accused of copying the product’s design from its rivals. Before Segway was bought by Ninebot, the two companies were squaring off for several years. Segway sued Ninebot, claiming the Chinese manufacturer stole its designs. The conflict continued and Segway tried to block Ninebot from selling its scooters in the U.S.
In April 2015, during a press conference called by Ninebot, the CEO announced they bought Segway so the dispute ended.
Other companies tried to enter the electric scooter’s market with cheaper products. However, things didn’t go as planned for all of them. In November, a renting company put out another recall for its scooters because some of them started to break in half.