Scooter-sharing company Lime recently relayed a troubling message to its users: a portion of its fleet was at risk of bursting into flames.
The startup recalled about 2,000 vehicles, less than one percent of its scooters, following its Oct. 30 warning message. The situation brought to mind scenes from three years ago of those skateboard-style conveyances known as hoverboards catching fire and promptly falling out of use. Would spontaneous combustion sink the scooter next?
Lime, the crime is based in Beijing based Ninebot Inc. a manufacturing defect which is one of its suppliers. But the company is not any scooter installer. Ninebot moves silently as a single big scooter source deployed in US cities. The lesser-known producer is an important provider of the rise of için micro-mobility l to everyone who seeks to move beyond a movement that aims to transform urban transport through the multiplication of cheap alternatives to cars and public transport.
The scooter trend began last year with the launch of Bird Rides Inc. in Santa Monica, California, and launched an explosion of venture capital in micro-mobility. Uber Technologies Inc., Lyft Inc. and the big carmakers ran to launch scooter services on their own, with investors trading hundreds of millions of dollars in a short period of time, giving them a billions of dollars of lime and Bird valuation. All this brought Ninebot more work. Uber now sees Bird and Lime as a potential acquisition target to address the challenge of getting enough scooters on the road, according to reports from the Information and Finance Times.
. We work with all the talented actors you can imagine, tüm said Gao Lufeng, Ninebot’s Chief Executive Officer. Ninebot said the scooter sales were six-fold this year, and Gao refused to show the ship’s total number of scooters, although the company estimated that four of the five electric scooters currently in use today are one of the three factories. The six-year-old is now valued at $ 1.5 billion, according to someone familiar with his finance, and plans his public offering.
In this surprise year of Scooter, Ninebot was one of the only installers who had the expertise to translate them into huge numbers. However, as lime recall shows, there is a risk of being the largest scooter manufacturer. The business partners of the Chinese manufacturer seem uncertain about helping to further strengthen itself.
Located in a technology park in northwest Beijing, visitors to Ninebot’s headquarters are welcomed with a screen similar to a strange museum from the future. It is a roller-skate-hoverboard hybrid with a white linoleum pedestal, a wheeled Drift W1, retractable pedestals and a go-kart that goes 15 miles per hour. There’s something resembling a Segway cut from the middle leg called MiniPro. A video screen in the office shows a group of svelte models dancing on the miniPros.
Segway itself is part of Ninebot’s product line. In 2015, Ninebot self-balancing, two-wheeled vehicles bought once the buzzy maker. The Segway, in the early 2000s, showed how much the hoverboards were in 2015 and the scooters have survived to the present day: a new form of urban transportation, although they insist that the cynics would transform cities. The Segway revolution was never realized, and strange carriers seem to be remembered today as mostly novelty devices or worse, a foolish breath.
Ninebot never stopped making the Segways with other vehicles for short trips such as electric unicycles and an electric motorized L-shaped kick scooter. At first, the scooters did not look like the most promising product in the Ninebot’s ranking, the product that shook the world or the most similar. They were mainly adult versions of child’s play. But the lucrative business often comes from the most unexpected places.
Gaoors office is on the second floor, going up the row of young people entering computers. Ninebot has about 3,000 employees, including those on the assembly line, and plans to add up to 400 more in the next year, more research and design. Some staff use to go to the office on Ninebot devices or to roam around the spreading campus. Gao, who doesn’t run into the office, speaks softly and wears a black jacket with thick framed glasses and a small, white company logo.
Along with a polished table, phone manufacturer Xiaomi Corp., which owns approximately 20 percent of Ninebot, has an award with the investment arm of its founder Lei Jun. Unlike other young Chinese entrepreneurs, Gao, 39, never trained in the United States or worked for a Chinese technology manufacturer. He launched the forerunner at Ninebot in 2012 and is now working with most forecasts, the world’s largest short-distance vehicle manufacturer. Gao breaks the short-term transit market of the future into five different parts, from scooters to air travel. Lar We aim to make our footprint within all these layers, “he said.
However, there are serious questions about whether hundreds of thousands of people will work a year from now. Detractors see the scooter frenzy as a conflict that brings unnecessary risks. The accidents resulted in some deaths, as well as jerky, notched teeth and broken bones. In a California trial in October, both the Lime and Ninebot, including the negligence of the negligent operators and manufacturers were accused.
The retreat of Lime supports the fact that scooters are dangerous toys, but Gao insisted he did not lay the blame on his feet. Three days after Lime’s statement, Ninebot Lime has issued its own defective account and warned scooter riders to consider an operator’s safety record. “We want to offer more professional company maintenance services, but it seems that Lime wants his team to be like this,” Gao said in a later phone call.
Gao meant Lime acak juicers G; The company, for independent contractors, was paying a fee to get depleted scooters on the streets for charging. These contractors, Gao, said using Ninebot scooters were not compatible with the chargers caused the problem. Tek All the consumers we have, “he said, um the only person who has this issue is lime.“
Even before Anemon, Lime and Ninebot broke ties. Gao polluted the dispute, noting that less than 10 percent of Lime’s shipments. It was not his first confrontation with a US-based partner.
Solowheel is an electric unicycle and an inventor named Shane Chen in the United States wanted to believe in someone’s potential.
In the spring of 2014, a year before the deal to buy Segway, Chen said Ninebot had invited him to Beijing to discuss Solowheel and finally offered a partnership. The Beijing native recalls boasting that the locals were interested in the market and Ninebot will knock the Segway on the market. When Chen asked for more time, he said Ninebot was offensive, and then said it was unnecessary.
In August, Ninebot had launched its own single-wheel scooter, Ninebot One. ”They were a bit overbearing, Chen Chen said.
Chen opened patent lawsuits in the US and China on Solowheel and claimed that Ninebot had removed the design for electric skates. Chen said the case in the United States is still pending and Ninebot has appealed China’s decision in Chen’s favor. Gao resorted to accusations of erm baseless koy skates, and a Ninebot spokesperson answered a few questions about the dispute, saying: du We do not recommend putting this information on the news.
Ninebot is accused of making designs that have similar similarities to what competitors do. Before he bought the Segway, Gao was defeated against the American company for years. Segway claimed that Ninebot and other Chinese manufacturers were constantly cutting out their designs. At some point, Segway tried to stop Ninebot from selling in the US. Later, in April 2015, Gao held a press conference to discuss new investors. Finally, a message appeared behind the Gao in China: bir Ninebot Buys Segway. Sonunda
Ninebot reportedly paid $ 75 million for the company, which passed through multiple owners and tragic turns. The previous owner, James Heselden, plunged to the death of a cliff on the Segway. The deal from Beijing was an indication of a change at the epicenter of personalized transport technology.
Olan Today, it’s not just the copycat China, “said Neil Shen, a Ninebot investor from Sequoia Capital. ”China will expand through its own innovations and acquisitions.“
The idea of shared transit had already captured the imagination of the technology industry as soon as Ninebot closed its deal for Segway. Uber and Didi, China’s most sought-after giant player, have become great powers pointing to a future that is not tied to individually owned cars. But Gao had no particular idea that the same economic model would work for the scooter. ”We didn’t expect the sharing work to have such a hyper growth,“ he said.
A former Ninebot official said the company was involved in about 10 different vehicle forms prior to the scooter explosion. First, the Segway-inspired miniPro didn’t have handlebars at first, so there was no elegant way to get rid of the riders. The addition of the handles was still unsure how Ninebot would use people. At some point, the company had thought over a plan to place BMW in the car trunks.
After Gao met Bird CEO Travis VanderZanden earlier this year, Ninebot’s scooters began to show Los Angeles, Austin and other cities. More and more customers, including traditional car manufacturers, were lined up. Ninebot sells vehicles to Spin, a scooter company recently purchased by Ford, and Gao said he supplied both Lyft and Uber.
Pressure on Suppliers
The entry of competitors into the unproven scooter-sharing market has enabled operators to offer features that distinguish between longer-lasting scooters, holding in the rain and competing scooter services. If almost everyone who wants to start a scooter sharing service applies to Ninebot, the operators have started to see that trust in a common manufacturer is a vulnerability. It is very difficult for any company to claim a superior vehicle if everyone buys them from the same place.
At the moment, Lime juggles multiple suppliers while preparing a new group of scooters to fill an order. Before they cut off ties with Ninebot, Lime only used Gao’s firm mak to fill in some gaps N, said Lime’s operations manager Joe Kraus. “Hard to get enough scooters.“
Thomas Yao, partner of IMO Ventures, who invests in Lime, still has a shortage of supply in the scooter market. However, because Ninebot faces new competition, these shortages can be made easier. Yao said there are currently four bunlar quality olduğun scooter suppliers in China but refused to mention them. Ninebot said it still has the best product design capabilities, and it’s an edge when it comes to building long scooters that can ride long distances or live in bad weather.
Inmotion Technologies Co., a Shenzhen-based competitor in South China, said the scooter output had grown five times last year. Charles Cai, CEO of Inmotion, said that he made 120,000 pumps per month between two factories. A small room in the offices on the 18th floor shows the line of motor vehicles. They are very similar to Ninebot’s products – and Inmotion had even cut a deal with Shane Chen to build Solowheel unicycle.
As a smaller supplier, Cai said he was more willing to shape scooters according to customer demands and add features like the LED light on the scooter. Scooters are built to withstand a meter of water and are useful for a product that is prone to abandonment in public waterways. Cai, Movo and Yellow, have recently signed an agreement with scooter operators in Europe and Brazil and will work with Bird and Lime next year.
More suppliers mean lower prices, but the variety of production did not work perfectly for Lime. In November, the company had to remind once more after half of the scooters built by a Chinese company called Okai began to break. Okai said Limesızs claims for scooters were “arbitrary and unfounded”.
Ninebot has solved such problems, such as the error of less-equipped imitators. ‘This is the case in China, G Gao said. Iyor When others see this, they can be a profitable business, and they want to run. ”But Ninebot doesn’t talk much about the future of the popular popularity of scooter. He works on a larger electric vehicle – something that doesn’t describe it – and that blows up in the air. Ninebot is also developing a self-propelled delivery robot for Chinese e-commerce company Meituan Dianping.
Perhaps one of these new tools will be the vehicle of tomorrow’s future. Or maybe not. This reminds me of how quickly the job can turn. There is a familiar view in Chinese cities: the bikes from Ofo and Mobike share a sharp decline in good fortune. In recent weeks, just outside of Ninebot’s offices, many of these bicycles lay flat, unused on the ground.
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