Google Maps users will be able to find and rent Spin’s electric scooters after the Ford-owned company announced a new global integration on Tuesday.
Starting Sunday, anyone who uses Google Maps will be able to see the nearest available Spin e-bike or e-scooter in real time, including how long it will take to walk to the vehicle, as well as battery range and expected arrival time.
But to pay for the scooter, unlock it, and take their ride, users will be redirected to Spin’s app. Google Maps users will be able to see Spin’s availability in 84 cities, campuses, and towns in Europe and North America, the company said.
“Our goal is really to make it just as convenient or even more convenient to get around with alternative transit, bikes, buses, scooters, public transportation, as it is to get around with the car,” Spin CEO Ben Bear told The Verge. “And until you’re able to do that, you’re not going to really drive the mode shift that we’re all focused on in the micromobility industry.”
“Our goal is really to make it just as convenient or even more convenient to get around with alternative transit”
Spin’s scooters will appear on Google Maps when users select the bicycle option after looking up directions to a specific location. They will also appear under the public transportation tab, Bear said.
Spin is the latest e-scooter company to integrate its products into Google Maps. Users have been able to find and rent Lime’s scooters since late 2019. Depending on the city, the popular navigation app also includes available bike-share, public transportation schedules, and fare information for using Uber and Lyft vehicles.
Alphabet — which owns Google — is an investor in Lime, having contributed to a $170 million investment in the scooter company in May 2020. As part of that deal, Lime acquired Uber’s bike and scooter-sharing company, Jump.
The Google Maps integration will help level the playing field for Spin in terms of competition with its rivals, Bear said. “Whichever is the fastest, most convenient option is what’s going to surface first, right?” he said. “So it’s really done in a fair way.”
Spin, which was acquired by Ford for $100 million in 2018, has seen its own shake-ups. Earlier this summer, co-founder and CEO Derrick Ko stepped down to assume a strategic advisor role, while the company’s chief business officer, Ben Bear, became the new CEO. Spin announced plans to add electric bikes to its fleet of shared vehicles, while also expanding to multiple cities in the US and Europe.
Possibly spurring all this activity was a report that Ford was considering divesting itself from Spin, or perhaps merging the scooter sharing firm with a special purpose acquisition company, also known as a SPAC.
A spokesperson for Ford declined to comment on Bloomberg’s report regarding divestment, but since its publication, the automaker’s top executives have expressed confidence in Spin’s business.
“I’m excited about all we’ve accomplished under the leadership of Derrick, Zaizhuang, and Euwyn to advance micromobility solutions in our cities and as a capability for Ford,” said Ford CEO Jim Farley said in a recent statement. “They’ve built a terrific business, and we look forward to continued progress under Ben, who is strongly positioned to grow Spin and give more people the freedom to move and pursue their dreams.”