While I think it’s a big curmudgeonly, there are a lot of people who complain about scooters in urban areas on the internet. For some, it’s an safety issue, because some customers are morons and leave scooters in the middle of the sidewalk, but companies like Lyft and Lime have put measures in place to stop customers from doing that. For others, it’s an obsessive-compulsive displeasure with the apparent disorder of scooters all parked in spots where bare sidewalks used to be.
Whatever the issue, one aspect of scooterdom that drives this is fragmentation. If a company has docks, it’s only for that company’s scooters. If they have a staff or freelancers who pick the scooters up for charging, repairs, or just to put back in a safe spot, that staff focuses on that brand’s scooters. There’s only so much space in a downtown area for scooters, docks, and charging areas, so every brand can’t have an abundance of special spots.
That’s where Charge comes in. The company provides a variety of services aimed at providing spaces for every brand of shared scooter, and possibly even some privately owned ones. By offering shared spaces for any company’s scooters, there can be more safe spots to park and/or charge without taking up vital urban space that’s already crowded.
“We empower the urban tribe to keep their sidewalks safe while enjoying cleaner ways to rediscover their cities.” said Andrew Fox, CEO of the company. In an email exchange, I discussed the company’s offerings with one of their representatives, and they gave me a lot of information about how they accomplish Mr. Fox’s goals.
Charging Smart Hub
For freelancers or employees charging scooters and placing them back out in designated places, the company offers a simple product that looks like a shipping container on the outside. It has multiple locker doors with rows of plugs inside, and can charge up to 70 scooters at once. It appears that a truck could drop the box anywhere like a rolloff dumpster, and takes up about the same space as one passenger vehicle.
The big advantage here for freelancers is that they don’t have to go home to get scooters charged up, and if they live out in the suburbs, it’s a big time saver. The secure doors also keep people from stealing the scooters while they’re charging.
The company already has these in Paris, France. Mr. Fox says that the company pays for the smart hub and the electricity, and the employees or freelancers use their part of the hub for charging.
Charging Smart Station
For companies that want the customers to place scooters on chargers, or for scooters that can autonomously scoot over to a charger, the company’s Charging Smart Station is the answer. It’s a lot prettier than the shipping container style station designed for B2B customers. It’s designed for the scooters to charge when not in use, keep clutter to a minimum, and allow customers to take a scooter that’s ready to go. These stations are battery powered, and don’t require a power line to be run, saving a lot on cost and clutter.
The biggest advantage of this setup is that the hub supports charging and parking for any brand of scooter. If enough of these are placed in a city, all scooters can be supported for charging without taking up the kind of space that would be needed for every company to have their own special docks. That makes the difference between feasibility and fuggedaboutit.
Other Charge Products
The company also offers sponsored charging stations, which helps offset the cost with some advertising.
It also has technology to virtually designate parking locations without needing to permanently mark sidewalks or curbs, only requiring a portable sign. This allows cities and companies to work together on placing and moving designated parking zones at minimum expense. For these locations, it has custom stands that are easy to put up, don’t require permanent mounting, and are decorated by local artists.
Like the company’s other offerings, they’re brand agnostic, and don’t favor any company over another. Anyone can use the smart hubs, smart stations, or designated zones.
This All Saves Space
As I mentioned earlier, this makes a big difference in terms of space and clutter.
Companies tend to leave their scooters loose on sidewalks, or park in special zones, because permanent infrastructure for every company simply can’t fit in cities. To succeed without angering the whole city, they’ll need to work together and share charging hubs, smart chargers, and scooter zones.
By confining this all down to a few areas, every company benefits.