moped sharing services from a customer point of view

The state of shared mobility: Moped sharing in 2023

At the beginning of this year we released the first part of our Shared Mobility Research, a qualitative study where we focused on shared (e-)bicycles. This marked the start of our larger research, where we as creators put on the hat of consumers and look at the mobility world with a blank slate. This means we research shared mobility brands as actual customers and we focus on what is presented to us. We do not involve the brands, we look at them from a human perspective. 

We have seen an increase in the use of shared mopeds in the Netherlands over the last years. The Netherlands is in the top 3 countries in the world when it comes to shared moped usage, Rotterdam as a city is even leading the list. This gave us enough reason to follow up on our step-by-step approach where we learn more about shared mobility by zooming in on shared mopeds. 

In our approach we translated insights from our desk research, field research (where we performed 11 field tests for 3 different shared moped services in the Netherlands in 5 different cities) and our leverage point session into results, which we validated with 10 respondents in our market research. 

Enjoy the read!

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01.

Context

Shared moped brands like Felyx and Go sharing have raised millions in funding over the last few years and have expanded their services throughout the Netherlands at high velocity.

This map shows all the cities in The Netherlands which have one or more shared mopeds services available.

For example Check has launched their services in Rotterdam back in 2020, introducing 160 shared e-mopeds to the city. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the company managed to grow rapidly and efficiently: in 2021 its fleet increased by 300% and its revenues by almost 700%.

Recently though, investors are hesitant to add more funding to the equation until the brands are able to move out of the red numbers. The effect? A market consolidation on one hand where Felyx and GO Sharing are decreasing the amount of cities they service and the amount of mopeds they offer, choosing focus over quantity. And an expansion of their service on the other hand, like Check who have added cars to their offering.

In our last research we already stated some influences on the long term success for shared mopeds:

  • The simplicity of parking shared mopeds is seemingly becoming a hazard in the eyes of the public and legislators, as they are often parked on pavements and in the way of the elderly or visually impaired community. Though Check states it is only 0.2% of all rides, legislators are taking the nuisance very seriously and are starting up a process for new legislation.
  • And while the offering of shared mopeds is seen as a sustainable option or alternative, it seems that it is not that sustainable as we all thought. The Dutch Kennisinstituut voor Mobiliteitsbeleid (KIM) calculated that a shared moped is actually twice as polluting as a privately owned moped, and just as polluting as a moped running on gasoline. This strengthens the belief of local governments to be more strict when it comes to shared electrical mopeds.
    Note though, we have heard criticism from at least one shared moped brand, as they are disappointed that this claim has become a huge story. They say the KIM has mostly been researching electric scooters and not mopeds (stepjes in Dutch) and also outside of the Netherlands. Contrary to the Netherlands, in other countries whole vehicles are replaced. Here, they say, batteries are swapped (with green energy) and the lifetime of the actual vehicle is much longer than the KIM claims. Disproving their non-sustainability claim.
  • One of the more concrete laws started as of January 2023 where the Netherlands made it mandatory to wear a helmet on any moped at all times, also when riding on bicycle paths. This is expected to have an impact on the travellers choice when choosing between a moped and an (electric) bike.

At the same time, the shared moped brands are owning up to their responsibility as owners and creators. Felyx for example decided to embed a new feature into their user flow after a 6 week trial in Eindhoven, where riders are asked to make a picture of the parked moped and surroundings at the end of every ride. This feature has boosted awareness of parking behaviour and reduced nuisance by a staggering 90%. And just a short while ago they informed their clients about their new “Park as a Pro” policy, where parking incorrectly will lead to actual fines. 
Check recently introduced the so-called parking score. Prior to a ride on a shared moped from Check, a rider assesses how the moped is parked: thumbs up or thumbs down. This rating will be added to the profile of the previous rider (the rider who has parked the moped). All reviews about a user form the individual parking score. A consistently bad result can lead to a blocked account.
An interesting approach, as they are making the riders involved in their service by making them more responsible for the assessment of the quality.

It seems that mopeds are mostly popular under a younger crowd. And we were able to confirm this, as out of our participants pool, the majority of the people that regularly use a shared moped has an average age between 25-35 years old.
A study conducted with 11,400 participants in 10 cities of Europe found that young people (ages 16–29), especially young males are the biggest users of e-scooters and e-mopeds.
Mopeds are experienced as a fun, fast and a convenient way of travelling in the city. Especially for short distance journeys, mopeds can take you to your destination quickly. It is seen as a convenient medium-distance means of transport that is usually much faster than bicycles. What we have learned is that these trips in the city would normally be done by car or even public transport (page 42, paragraph 4.3.3), but because of the flexibility in parking and most importantly the cost, the younger riders choose a shared moped instead. It is cheaper than a taxi or bus: ranging between 0.29 and 0.33 euro per minute, with a starting fee between 0,50 and 1 euro.

Knowing all this, let's see how it is to actually use a shared moped in our day-2-day lives.

02.

Research

We conducted a qualitative study where we translated insights from our desk research, field research (where we performed 11 field tests for 3 different shared moped services in the Netherlands in 5 different cities) and our leverage point session into results, which we validated with 10 respondents in our market research. 

On January 1st of this year, there were 1.2 million vehicles with a moped license plate, which is about 11% of all motorised vehicles in the Netherlands. 

The interesting thing is that none of the participants in our qualitative research owns a (electric) moped and only one has owned one in the past. But shared mobility is not about owning, it is about using the products. And interestingly enough, 80% of the respondents had never used a shared electric moped before this research. 

Our participants have been testing Felyx, GO Sharing and Check scooters in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Dordrecht, Delft and Utrecht over a period of 3 weeks. But we need to be frank, it was difficult to mobilise them to actually start their field research. And this on its own was an interesting find, and the exact opposite of how our shared bicycle research went. 

Many of the participants found it to be a big threshold to find a reason to use a moped. Since we wanted to keep the research as real as possible, we haven’t forced people to go for a ride, the threshold in itself was a very interesting find. Any of the respondents that in the end did not try a moped were still included in the deep dive interviews (the second part of our research). The deep-dive interviews were a method to better understand the experience people had with using a shared moped service, if they were considering doing it again, and what was the overall experience about this vehicle. 

The combination of the field research, the deep-dive interviews and the questionnaires filled in right after trying a moped in the city, led us to two types of results:

  • The user experience findings;
  • The scenario based motivation to use shared mopeds.

03.

Results

User experience findings

What specific type of transportation will a person choose? And what brand? 

  • The biggest challenge for many of the participants was finding a reason to use a moped in the first place. It was not in their natural flow to pick the shared moped as their choice of transportation. One of the participants really tried their best to find a reason to ride one: “I really tried, I wanted to take a Felyx to a dinner date with friends, it was a 30 minute bike ride, so a moped seemed attractive. Then I realised, how do I get back? I will be drinking, and a taxi is very expensive. In the end I decided to cycle there. Another idea was to go to my gym, usually I walk there, which is about 40 minutes, but then I would miss out on my daily walk, so I decided not to take a moped. It was really difficult to fit this into my normal flow”.
    So before even thinking of which brand to choose from, participants found it difficult to imagine mopeds on their list of travel possibilities. One of the participants shared with us that: “even if I have them in front of my door almost everyday, I would still choose to travel with my bike or with public transport. I see that they are there, but I don’t get the feeling I can rely on the fact they will be there once I need them.”
    And reliability is not the only reason for not choosing for them. Some of the participants find it scary to ride on such a vehicle in the city. “If you look at how people use and misuse these mopeds, I think they make the city way more dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists. And I don’t want to add to that danger.”
  • Surprisingly, or maybe not, appearance plays a role in the choice for a specific shared moped brand. The funny thing is, it is very personal what the preference is for each person. One of the participants didn’t want to step on a Check, they said: “The Check mopeds look like toys, because of the colours. I don’t feel they are safe. A Felyx feels more like a real moped.” Another participant had a completely different perspective, they believed the appearance of the Felyx mopeds was way too serious and looked a bit more intimidating for a first time use in the city. “What I don’t like about Felyx mopeds is the colour and the appearance. It gives me this immediate feeling of a mature vehicle, and when I look at Check I feel more safe and less scared by them”.
  • Some participants who were already acquainted with shared mopeds, preferred to stick with their usual brand. They found it confusing to stay up-2-date with other brands and their features. One of the participants interviewed told us that: “I’m not interested in trying a different brand from Felyx. I’m happy with the experience so far, and I don't want to learn all new things to do in the app, it would slow me down. And since I use this service when I need a very fast solution for my commute, I never think of trying something new.”

Creating an account so the ride can start.

  • There were few differences between the onboarding processes for Felyx and Check, they both had the exact same flow. There is no differentiation there. GO sharing was the exception as they also offer bicycles where it is not necessary to add a license until you actually want to use a moped. Most of the participants just had to add their driving license to unlock the mopeds, because they already had an account for e-bikes.
  • The process of setting up the account for a moped is a bit more time consuming and has a higher in-app threshold compared to (e-)bikes, as it requires more documents and steps in the flow before getting started. You are asked for your drivers license and also a verification that you are a real person. This is not seen as an issue by the participants, but does at a little time to the flow.
  • In general though the flow of both Felyx and Check are perceived as an easy flow, without complications. Even with the license and verification added. This could be because most respondents were not first time users of a shared mobility service, most have gone through the onboarding process for bicycles for example. “Even if it took me a bit longer due to the extra steps and documents I had to share, I found the onboarding process of all the different brands very easy”, shares a participant.

Pick a moped and ride to your destination!

  • We already mentioned that 80% of the participants have never used a shared moped before, they are mostly bike riders. This made the participants feel lost when it comes to the different rules between mopeds and bikes on the Dutch roads. “I was a bit nervous before getting on my moped, as I had never ridden one in Amsterdam before. I knew where I had to go, so I did the same route I would normally do by bike, to then discover at a certain point that I might have taken a road where mopeds were not allowed. It made me feel agitated, I was afraid I would have gotten a fine or so. Nothing happened, but it left me thinking about the fact that I rode a moped with bike-rules in my head, and I guess this might happen to other people as well.”
    Another participant shared with us that: “Scootering on the bike paths was not allowed, I guess. At least it made it a little confusing for me where to ride. On the road next to the cars felt a little scary.”
  • Wearing a helmet makes the riders feel safe, but is also a threshold for using a shared moped at all. This is connected to the fact that some of the participants had some negative experiences with the state of the helmets they found in the moped. Being an accessory that you wear on your head and that gets in contact with your skin and hair, wearing a helmet that has been worn by many other people is a big threshold for people. “I arrived at the Felyx moped I had reserved, I opened the helmet box and I found these 2 helmets that have been for sure worn many other times by many people, and they had a weird smell. I wore it for safety, but the hygiene factor would make me consider taking a bike next time”.
    Also the safety part is questionable if the helmet is too big, one participant stated: “my Check had two helmets and they were both too big for me, it didn’t really feel safe, but I made due. At least the ride was fun.”
  • The fact that you can find a moped parked at every corner of the street now (something that is called free floating) gives this idea of constant availability. The opposite is actually reality for some of the participants. One of the participants shared with us that: “I checked in late the night before if I would have been able to find a Felyx for the next morning in my area, and I saw there were many around, fully charged. Quite reassuring at the moment. But I hadn't thought of the fact that it was Saturday night at the time that I checked and the next morning there were no mopeds available in the vicinity of my house and if there were, they had a very low battery life, not enough for my planned trip. This made me realise that this service is not made for me, as I like to have the possibility to plan things in advance and I need to rely on my transportation modes”.
  • Not all participants are planners or see mopeds as something they would use if they would plan out their trip. In fact, mopeds give a sense of velocity and flexibility, and in general, when using a moped, some of the participants like the fact that they can travel to their destination fast. It has been defined as a tool to buy time by one of the participants. “When I’m in a hurry, I know I can take a Felyx to shorten the distance between me and my destination. It’s fun, and up to now, it always made me arrive on time even when I thought I was running late”.

Arriving at your destination, time to park.

  • All the brands that we have tested have parking zones all around the cities where you’re allowed to leave your moped. The zones cover the most important areas in a city, so it is easy to leave your vehicle after you have used it. What 's interesting is that none of the participants checked whether they could park their vehicle at their destination before getting there, but checked it at the moment of their arrival. For one of the participants this caused a small problem, as he arrived at his destination but he had to park his GOsharing moped 5 minutes walking distance away from the place he had to be. “Not a big problem this time, I wasn't in a hurry, but it would have been annoying if I had to be in a specific place at a certain time. I didn’t plan for those 5 extra minutes.”
  • For the first-time-use participants, the difference between parking and stopping was a bit confusing. One of the participants said: “I was about to park my Check moped, the first time ever that I drove with such a thing. And I almost chose the parking option instead of stopping my ride. I’m glad I’ve checked twice, otherwise I would have paid quite some money for my ride!”
    The moment of parking is an interesting moment in the flow, because it’s the moment where your moped will become someone else’s moped soon. As we have mentioned before, both Felyx and Check are taking responsibility for the parking challenge of shared mopeds in their own ways. This is a good thing, because some of the participants are not happy about the conditions their mopeds were in when they wanted to use them for a ride: “Once I got to the Check moped I had selected on the app, I noticed it was really dirty and laying on its side. I was about to travel with my daughter, and I felt a bit unsure about the vehicle. Something I couldn’t see from the app beforehand. I was lucky there was another one parked next to it, so I canceled my reservation for the dirty one and took the one next to it. Driving a clean and well maintained moped gave me a more reassuring feeling”.
    Another respondent found their Check in good shape, but: “imagine my surprise to find the helmet outside of the case on top of the moped. I wasn’t keen on wearing a used helmet, now I had to wear one that was not even stored neatly? No thanks!”.

The scenario based motivation to use shared mopeds

From our research we learned there were two groups of people, the ones that really enjoyed using shared mopeds and the ones that could not see themselves ever riding one again (or at all) in their lives. Very black and white.

01.

This service is not for me:

Some of the participants, even after trying different brands for different scenarios, still came to the conclusion that shared mopeds are not for them. Though some participants appreciated the flexibility of the service, for them it lacked reliability. One of the participants shared with us that: “When it comes to appointments and things to do, I like to plan in advance and so prevent the possibility of being late to my appointments. It was stressful for me that I had to constantly check the availability of mopeds around me to be sure to get one for my journey. In the end, I’d prefer to rely on my own bicycle, as I know where I left it and I know it will be there when I need it.”

In general, we noticed that the majority of our participants’ pool that regularly uses a shared moped service has an average age between 25-35 years old. And they seem to enjoy the benefits of the shared moped enormously, we came to 3 different scenarios of use for them.

01.

A way to shorter distances between destinations:

Unplanned, fast, mostly in a hurry, flexible, seen as a treat, not really caring about money, mostly one way, short to longer distances.
T
his scenario covers all the trips made when in a hurry and when wanting to get to a destination faster. It’s unplanned, and very flexible. “If on my route to my destination I come across a moped, I might consider taking it to get there faster,” a participant says. These riders do not think about the way back, it’s a one-way trip.

02.

Making the ride part of the experience:

Unplanned, occasional, fast, short distances, mostly with 2 people, one way or back and forth if possible.
This scenario has been mentioned by different participants as a way to do something they would normally do with their bikes or public transport and turn it into a fun moment. “If I want to go for dinner with my girlfriend I like to go with the scooter to the restaurant, it makes the experience of the evening a bit more special”

03.

A ‘once in a while’ easy journey:

Planned, occasional, fast, back and forth journey, longer distances.
Looking at the possible scenarios of use for shared mopeds in the cities, we decided to check out one of the most interesting scenarios we heard in our interviews, namely getting a moped to go to an event, and more specifically a football match at the stadium. We checked the Kuip, the Feyenoord Stadion in Rotterdam, during one of the last matches of the championship, and we were amazed by the amount of neatly (!!) parked mopeds we found there. It was almost as if football fans had created a temporary mobility hub at the stadium.

A picture of the parking lot outside of The Kuip Stadium during of the last last matches of the championship

A very interesting scenario, as it is one of these occasions where you might be sure to find a vehicle to go back home on based on the amount of mopeds parked there. One of the security people outside the stadium said: “It is quite interesting to see all these people arriving with mopeds and leaving again as soon as the game is over. And now you better leave, you don’t want to be here in a few minutes when the match is over.”

04.

Conclusion

Choosing to make use of a shared moped is very personal, some may like it, others may not. But what we know is that there is a whole audience out there that has a specific need in their travel from A to B that may be motivated to start choosing shared moped services instead of another form of transportation. The main point that makes shared moped services interesting is the fact that they are always ready to be used. And to maximise this, we have created 3 topics that have an influence on the ‘ready-to-useness’ feeling for the travellers:

01.

Reliable

How can people who are more like planners be motivated to choose a shared moped as an alternative to their go-to-choice of transportation? By giving them the option to plan. We believe this will open up a large group of potential riders.

02.

Available

Make sure mopeds are available where they are demanded, for example in business areas. Whether this is through predictive analyses or another form, providing the right amount of shared mopeds in the right place helps increase the usage.

03.

Usable

Provide products that are usable and won’t give travellers any issues: Mopes should be charged, maintained, not broken and most importantly they have to have all the necessary accessories ready for the user. If a product is well taken care of, it does set an example for the users to leave it in good state to the next user.

What's next

It has been quite an eventful time for shared moped brands this last year. From a legislative- and consolidation perspective, but also from a market maturity and growing traveller expectation perspective. But there is a lot to be won in the shared mobility ecosystem, and the best way to find out what that is, is to look at it from a scenario and need based perspective

And that is exactly what we are doing. At this moment we are already focussing on a deep dive into shared mobility challenges and are investigating the pros and cons of parking zones: free floating and mobility hubs. We will publish our findings soon.

At the same time we are not done yet with our overall shared mobility research, there are many more shared mobility services to investigate, like cars and electric scooters. And you rest assured that we have already started our next phase.

So, there’s more to come!

We are fresk.digital, an experienced team of professionals in Digital Sensemaking and we guide our clients from business concepts to meaningful digital products that are embraced by their customers. By servicing many clients in the field for over 10 years, most recently NS, Blue-bike and Ravlling, we have become experts in travel and mobility.  Through our broad knowledge of user behaviour, our industry knowledge and our technical agnostic view, we are able to help our clients answer their business critical questions and translate these into flexible digital solutions.