In June, electric scooter startup Bird announced that it would be rolling out a new moped-style electric vehicle called the Bird Cruiser. Today, the moped can be spotted in service around Los Angeles — but under Bird’s Scoot brand and not its own.
The design and engineering of Scoot’s moped were based on the Bird Cruiser, which has been spotted recently near Bird’s Santa Monica headquarters. Both mopeds look very similar to the Juiced Scorpion, a moped-style electric bike introduced by the San Diego-based company in September. That is probably not an accident, considering Juiced is rumored to be working with Bird on the design.
It’s unclear why Bird would choose to launch Scoot’s moped before its own Cruiser. The best explanation I can come up with is that Bird is using Scoot as a stalking horse to test a new product before rolling it out under its own brand. Most people probably don’t know that Bird acquired Scoot back in June and therefore don’t technically associate one with the other. This lets Bird experiment with a new form factor without any blowback on its own image.
The acquisition of Scoot allowed Bird to get back into San Francisco, after initially getting shut out of the city in 2018. Until recently, Scoot was just one of two scooter companies permitted to operate in San Francisco. (The city recently approved Uber’s Jump, Spin, and Lime, while eliminating Skip’s permit.) Scoot operates its fleet of shared electric kick scooters and GenZe 2.0 electric mopeds in just two cities: San Francisco and Barcelona.
Scoot wouldn’t say much about the moped. It has thick tires, hydraulic disc brakes, an LCD display, and side-view mirrors. The elongated seat and presence of rear-mounted footpegs would seem to indicate that this moped is designed for up to two riders. The moped will come equipped with a helmet, and customers must be 18+ years old and have a valid driver’s license to riders. There’s no word on how much it will cost: Scoot says its testing pricing during the pilot phase.
A spokesperson for Scoot wouldn’t provide any additional specs, but if it’s in any way similar to the Juiced Scorpion, the vehicle will have a 750W rear-hub motor and 52V lithium-ion battery that will get it up to 45 miles of range. The Scorpion is registered as a Class 2 e-bike, which means it offers both pedal- and throttle-assisted speeds of up to 20 mph. The Scoot Moped lacks pedals, making it technically a moped, so it could theoretically achieve speeds of up to 30 mph — though Scoot will be limiting them to a 20 mph top speed.
“The new Scoot Moped offers a lightweight and approachable design that will introduce even more people to the fun of riding electric,” Scoot founder and president Michael Keating said in a statement.
Scoot says the moped could be ridden on the street or the bike lane, depending on local rules. When you have finished your ride, park the moped on the street, either in a designated motorcycle spot or between parked cars. They should not be ridden or parked on the sidewalk, Scoot says.
Electric mopeds and seated-scooters are quickly gaining steam as a popular form of micromobility. Revel, the startup that offers shared electric mopeds in Brooklyn and Washington, DC, just raised $27.6 million and plans to soon expand to new markets. Wheels, which offers pedal-less electric bikes in six cities, raked in $50 million in a new round.
Meanwhile, Bird padded its own coffers with a $275 million funding round earlier this month at a valuation of $2.5 billion. According to sources familiar with the company, the new funding will be used to chart a clear path to profitability as well as continued vehicle research and development, which Bird believes is a contributing factor to positive unit economics.
Update October 22nd, 4:18PM ET: In response to my question about why Bird was rolling out its first moped under the Scoot brand, the company recalled that Scoot launched its first shared electric mopeds in 2012. Because the company has a 7-plus-year history of providing people with an electric moped experience, Bird wanted to give a nod to the community that Scoot has built up over the years by launching its first moped under its subsidiary brand.