In Germany, the Technical Inspection Agencies Association (TÜV), recently requested a block on e-scooter accessibility during winter, alternatively let people know how to stay safe and what to be cautious about.
Whether the suppliers of e-scooters will continue business as usual or not seems to vary, as Lime and Voi intend to maintain the same number of vehicles on the roads whereas Tier and Circ will scale down during winter. However, a Tier spokesman emphasizes that some balancing of supply is needed. Taking away too many scooters would wreck the mobile concept and business model if users suddenly have to walk long distances to find a scooter.
But what about the e-scooters themselves, are they actually winterproof? And what are the potential risks?
According to suppliers, they can withstand colder weather, but some are working on making them even more winter-adapted, like Voi who said that their latest model is equipped with all-weather tyres. Either way, users are prompted to be careful before deciding to go on a ride as days are getting both colder and shorter. “Particularly areas with cobblestone pavement, an increased risk of slipperiness can be expected”, said Lars Zemke, from the Bundesverband Elektrokleinstfahrzeuge (Federal Association of Mini Electric Vehicles). Furthermore, TÜV warns users to be cautious about wet leaves and suggest that there should be possibilities to rent helmets along with the scooters. The police recommend bright clothing and preferably a high-visibility vest.
Batteries might suffer a declining lifetime if temperatures stay below freezing point for longer periods of time. However, as they develop heat in operation, it will be ideal if people use the e-scooters frequently during winter from a battery point of view.
As e-scooters are all connected and can be governed via additions and modifications in their software, I think there are a lot of interesting safety precautions that can be made by, for instance, limiting speeds in certain areas, blocking accessibility when there’s risk for ice formation and so on. Furthermore, to maintain battery lifetimes when the weather is cold, an idea could be for the suppliers to spread usage evenly on their vehicle fleets by recommending users to rent specific scooters that have been idle during a longer period? Maybe, this could even be translated into cost reductions for the user, if they decide to use another scooter than the closest for the good of the battery?
Written by Hampus Alfredsson, RISE Viktoria.