Zeus Scooters – Chariots of the Gods
We talk to Zeus Scooters about the rise of micro-mobility and the changing face of urban transport.
Zeus Scooters are part of a new wave of transport infrastructure, complementing existing public transport infrastructure. Zeus Scooters’ bespoke electric vehicles float around a number of European cities. Customers who have downloaded the Zeus Scooters app simply need to scan the QR code on a scooter, unlocking it, then ride it to wherever they please. Riders can pay for the scooter with either a per-day subscription or a 19 cents per-minute pay-as-you-go rate. It’s a cost-effective, environmentally friendly way to get around the city.
“We formed in 2019 but only launched in 2020- mobilising our first fleet of scooters in Heidelberg, Germany,” says Damian Young, CEO of Zeus Scooters. “We were founded with the goal of bringing micro-mobility to smaller cities that are underserved by the larger players. We integrate with local transport and provide convenient last-mile transport for commuters and tourists in these cities.”
Going for a Ride
In this relatively new and rapidly growing field, Zeus Scooters seeks to differentiate itself through its core product, the scooter itself.
“The core vehicle, the scooter itself, as a three-wheeled shared scooter, is a global first,” Young Points out. “We designed it with three wheels specifically to ensure the safety of the user. Studies have shown that three-wheel scooters are safer for the rider as well as pedestrians and road users. We find that when it comes to parking the scooters, you quite often see that the two-wheeled versions tend to fall over and can obstruct pathways and streets. Three wheels are more stable when parked and riding, and it provides a smoother journey for the user. The shock impact from the road is better absorbed by three wheels rather than two, so the user will feel fewer bumps and be more stable throughout the journey”
As well as improving safety and ease of use, this design also helps Zeus Scooters open its products and services up to a far wider potential market.
“This industry typically attracts a certain age group, 18-30, generally male,” Young tells us. “We wanted to tap into a wider demographic because we believe micro-mobility should be for all citizens in a city. A slightly older cohort, as well as more women, will opt for a Zeus Scooter because of its three wheels, and it is also safer for novice users. So, we designed it to appeal to that wider demographic.”
Scooters in the City
As well as the scooter design, Zeus Scooters sets itself apart in the way it collaborates with the cities in which it works.
“We go into Tier Two and Three cities working closely with the local authorities. We customise the scheme for each particular city,” Young says. “We geo-map the city, create no-park zones, no-ride zones, and dedicated parking areas within the city to ensure our service suits the particular need of the city.”
As well as working closely with local authorities Zeus Scooters also carefully match their service to demand.
“We don’t just go into a city with hundreds of thousands of scooters, our approach is demand-based,” Young explains. “We deploy a small number to begin with, let people and the city get used to the service and then provide additional scooters as demand grows. We’re tackling the market differently to larger players.”
When Zeus Scooters started out, Young wanted to ensure the company and its vehicles could meet the highest standards, and this dictated how the scooters launched.
“We started in Germany because of the high expectations and requirements for vehicles. In advance of launching, we had nine months of vigorous testing to get a German Federal Transport Ministry license for our scooter,” recalls Young. “Very few companies have such a license, particularly with a brand new, bespoke designed vehicle.”
Of course, every location has its own demands and challenges.
“Each city has different demands- and so we adapt our technology to support their specific requirements,” says Young. “Some request dedicated parking areas for the scooters and in these cases, we show on the app the areas within the city that scooter users are allowed to park in. In other cities, we have challenges around where people are allowed to use the scooters. Some cities allow scooters in pedestrian areas, some don’t. Once again, we have developed our technology to clearly mark on the app what we call ‘no-drive zones’. We are constantly adapting our proposition to meet the needs of the city.”
A Greener Collaboration
On a global level, Zeus Scooters is run from its head office in Ireland, with its core customer services and operations staff. Before entering any city, however, the business identifies local partners to ensure its operation is a success.
“People are the most valuable assets we have to ensure we get it right,” insists Young. “We seek out strategic partners who can work with us and our processes and our fleet of vehicles on the ground.”
One such company is Green Log Mobility, a company dedicated to providing operations services for Zeus in Germany. Green Log Mobility carries out all its operations on a very eco-friendly, green basis. It services all of Zeus Scooters’ vehicles for battery swapping and re-balancing scooters.
“We use all-electric vehicles to be kind to the environment in those cities and we charge the scooters with renewable energy as much as possible. We have solar panels on our premises,” Young explains. “Partnerships with people like Green Log Mobility are important to us in growing and developing the right processes and relationships with each city while also keeping the city involved in day-to-day operations. A lot of that work is done in conjunction with these partners. We like to think that as a small business ourselves we’re creating employment in these small areas with teams of three, four or five people looking after the fleet in each city from an operational perspective. We overcome the challenge of getting good people by creating these partnerships.”
More partnerships like this are set to be created. Zeus Scooters is in a number of cities in Germany, two in Sweden, one in Norway and has recently launched in Italy.
“We want to continue that expansion through Europe and seek to enter new markets and cities over the next 12 months,” says Young. “Our main focus will be on the scooter business, but we’re also looking at other forms of micro-mobility to achieve similar outcomes. That includes reducing carbon footprints, looking at things like electric bikes, cargo bikes and mopeds for these cities. People have different preferences and very often users love bikes and don’t like scooters or a user may find a moped feels safer or can go longer distances.”
Young is also looking to go beyond Europe, with ongoing discussions in the US and Canada, and schemes set to launch in Malaysia and Australasia.
The timing could not be better, as the call for more sustainable transport solutions grows ever more urgent and micro-mobility looks set to be a key ingredient.
“When you look at it from an environmental perspective, the difference between a scooter and a car is the same kilowatt power will take a scooter 100km on what will take a car 1km,” Young says. “We see scooters replacing cars in city centres, with some cities banning cars from city centre locations. However, it also needs to integrate with public transport. You might have buses or trains but you need that last mile transport, and Zeus Scooters wants to be part of the innovation around micro-mobility in those cities.”