Published: Mon, November 12, 2018
Economy | By

LIFESTYLE Ford is buying scooter startup Spin (F)

LIFESTYLE Ford is buying scooter startup Spin (F)

Using a Spin electric scooter costs $1 to rent and 15 cents per minute. Last month, we told you about the possibility of a partnership between Ford and Volkswagen to develop electric vehicle solutions and now we see it charting new avenues. Before its acquisition of Spin, the OEM major had also bought e-bike startup GoBike, which has a strong presence across the Bay Area.

Ford's purchase comes after the founding of the "Ford X" division. Spin has a contract with Ninebot for buying 30,000 scooters a month through this year, which makes the startup join the long list of e-bike startups in the USA who depend on China for producing their scooters.

According to Reuters, Ford will invest US$200mn in Spin, which it adds is a relatively small amount compared with investments in and valuations of rival firms in the space such as Lime and Bird. By comparison, Madra said it took Uber three years to reach 3 million rides. Earlier this year, startup Bird was one of several e-scooter startups which were criticized for launching their offerings into cities without forming a detailed public-facing plan. Sunny Madra, vice president of Ford X, the auto company's startup incubator, wrote that the acquisition is a way to diversify its offerings and capture customers who do not want to own a vehicle.


Ford partnered with Purdue University this year to offer electric scooters as part of a research project created to determine how best to launch them in different communities. It now focuses only on the e-scooters with a presence in 13 cities and college campuses (and now 14 with the Detroit launch). Spin also applied to operate in Santa Monica but was snubbed by city officials there, too. "This approach aligns well with our values at Ford and with our aspiration to be the world's most trusted company".

The amount of scooters available in each city will vary; Detroit, for example, limits companies to 400 each.

"Spin CEO Derrick Ko said joining Ford will allow it to play the long game, rather than rushing to expand to secure another funding round", he writes. He declined to say whether Ford expects the business to be profitable, saying only that the company thinks "it represents a healthy business for us".

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