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!
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:
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.
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:
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.
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.
Unplanned, fast, mostly in a hurry, flexible, seen as a treat, not really caring about money, mostly one way, short to longer distances.
This 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.
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”
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.”
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.