Swedish startup Voi gets ready to put its first fleet of e-scooters on UK streets after being selected to run an exclusive 12-month e-scooter trial across Northampton and Kettering by Northamptonshire County Council, its second exclusive contract after securing Cambridgeshire and Peterborough last month. The startup also unveils its 4th generation scooter, featuring indicators, proprietary IoT hardware, GPS tech, AI technology, and an environmental sensor that can track noise levels.
As we recently reported, riding e-scooters on roads, cycle lanes or pavements had previously been illegal in the UK due to safety concerns. However, as part of a strategy to explore greener and more ‘socially distanced’ methods of urban transport due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the UK government announced plans to accelerate trials of rented e-scooter schemes. From now on, more than 50 councils and regional authorities putting in place e-scooter pilots, which can run for 12 months.
These new approvals have created a race between e-scooter companies to win potentially exclusive contracts with regional governments. This month Irish startup Zipp Mobility was approved in some regions, and is now engaging with a number of councils to secure e-scooter licences.
Voi’s e-scooter trial across Northampton and Kettering will form part of the local ‘Smart Move Northamptonshire initiative’, a plan utilising new technology and innovative solutions to help manage the transport network, provide better information to users, and offer more choice as to how they travel.
As part of the trial, Voi will create 50+ FTE jobs, provide safety pop-ups and helmets, additional insurance offers, subscription options, among others. Voi is also rolling out ‘Shieldex’ Copper-Tape tape on handlebars, designed to kill 99.98% of coronavirus on contact, and all scooters are disinfected every 24 hours. Voi is also providing COVID-19 information and advice in its app.
Fredrik Hjelm, co-founder and CEO of Voi Technology, said: “We are delighted to announce that Northamptonshire will be one of the first regions in the UK where people can use a Voi e-scooter and enjoy the benefits of this liberating new form of transport. People are keen to get out of their cars and want greener transport choices. Cities that are serious about cutting pollution and congestion see that this is a huge opportunity to introduce a mode of transport that can radically improve how we get around urban areas.”
Jason Smithers, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Highways and Place for Northamptonshire County Council said: “Northamptonshire is committed to improving access to greener, more sustainable, more affordable transport for the benefit of everyone. We’re thrilled to be partnering with Voi, Europe’s fastest-growing e-scooter operator, to bring this exciting new form of transport to residents and businesses across the region. We chose to partner with Voi because of its collaborative, responsible approach which is going to help us achieve our 2030 Climate-neutral target. In the short-term ‘post-lockdown’, we are keen to see how the use of e-scooters can help people get back to work, education and training, especially with capacity restricted on public transport.”
Voi also celebrates one year of the world’s first ever endorsed e-scooter traffic school by updating it including modules around Corona and safety, as well as making it available in eight languages and adapted to local traffic laws. To date almost half a million users have completed the online traffic test to learn safe riding and Voi has given away close to a million free rides to customers having completed the test.