Ford Smart Mobility, LLC has acquired Spin, a San Francisco-based electric scooter-sharing company that provides customers an alternative for first-mile and last-mile transportation. Spin is a micro-mobility service provider, with operations in 13 cities and campuses across the United States.


A woman takes a Spin electric scooter for a ride, November 8, 2018 (Photo courtesy Ford Smart Mobility)


The acquisition of Spin is the latest strategic move by Ford in the mobility space.


Earlier this year, the company created Ford X, a division within Ford Smart Mobility that intends to quickly build, acquire and pilot new transportation products and services. The most successful of these will become part of Ford's growing mobility offering.


Sunny Madra, vice president of Ford X, said November 7 in an online post, "The fast-paced, often experimental mobility sector requires businesses to keep up with agile and adaptable customers. At Ford, the products and services we offer need to reflect these changes."


Using a Spin electric scooter costs US$1 to rent and 15 cents per minute. Affordability, combined with ease of use and electrified power, also means scooters can help tackle challenges such as traffic congestion, parking availability and pollution.


This presents what Madra calls "a significant opportunity" as research shows nearly half of all trips made in the United States are three miles (4.8 km) or less, according to “The Micro-Mobility Revolution,” a report published in July by Populus, a data platform serving private mobility operators and cities.


Populus co-founder and CEO Regina Clewlow released the report with the comment, "In the spring of 2018, many U.S. cities experienced the latest wave of transportation innovation for urban mobility: the introduction of shared electric scooter services."


"Although commercial shared electric scooter services have been available in U.S. cities for less than 12 months, and less than five months in most markets, a remarkably large number of people (3.6%) report having used them," Clewlow writes.


The Populus report identifies three key factors that have facilitated a rapid rate of adoption for micro-mobility:

1) the widespread proliferation of GPS-enabled smartphones has more than doubled over the past decade;

2) traffic congestion in most U.S. cities is increasing and it can be faster to travel short distances of three miles or less using a bike or scooter;

3) the amount of private financing of micro-mobility has fueled the supply of these services, which has led to faster adoption.


Scooters allow cities to offer a last mile solution to their residents due to the relative affordability. Combined with ease of use and electrified power, scooters can also help reduce urban traffic congestion, parking limitations and pollution.



"As more people consider scooters to be a viable mobility option, now is the right time for Ford to work closely with Spin’s highly experienced and dedicated team to help expand their service to more cities," writes Madras. "In fact, the team is launching their service today in Detroit!"


By Sunny Lewis

Environment News Service (ENS)

November 9, 2018