Estonian ride-sharing startup Taxify is rolling out a dockless electric scooter-sharing service in Paris, and has plans to expand the offering to Australia within months.
The Taxify scooters, branded Bolt by TXFY, will be accessed by scanning QR codes in the existing app, allowing users to switch between the ride-sharing and scooter-sharing capabilities.
The launch forms part of a bigger plan to provide a city travel option for all travellers, regardless of distance, budget or customer need.
Markus Villig, co-founder and chief executive of Taxify, said in a statement that one in five Taxify rides is less than 3km, “which is the perfect distance to cover in a scooter”.
Taxify has more than 15 million users globally, and Villig puts this down to paying attention to “the localisation element” of transport options.
“To solve people’s problems effectively, you need to go down to the city, sometimes even neighbourhood level. When you do that, you really learn a lot about how people move around, so you can figure out ways to make it even easier and faster,” he said.
It could become the first scooter-sharing provider in Australia, although it is following the lead of ride-sharing giant and global competitor Uber, which recently made a significant investment in California scooter-sharing startup Lime.
However, if the reception that international bike-sharing startups have received in Australia is anything to go by, Taxify could be up for a challenge.
In July, oBike announced announced it would be pulling out of Melbourne, as its Singaporean parent company went into administration. Beijing operator Ofo has also withdrawn from the Australian market, having launched its pilot program in Adelaide just last year.
On the other hand, Sydney bike-sharing startup Airbike has expanded its operations to Canberra, with founder Angus McDonald citing the capital’s universities, flat and open areas, and support from the local government as reasons his scheme will succeed.
One of the major issues Australians have experienced with dockless bike-sharing comes from users ditching them in trees, rivers and passageways.
In August last year, Melbourne’s Lord Mayor declared oBikes “clutter” and threatened to run the business out of town if it didn’t clean up its act
A statement from Taxify specifies that its electric scooters will be collected every night for charging and maintenance, although it’s not clear whether this is also a measure to make sure the scooters don’t end up where they’re not wanted.