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Scoot's electric motor scooters spread to Spain

The San Francisco test case appears to have worked.

Scoot is launching electric bicycles and bringing its rentable electric motor scooters to Europe. 
Karol Mielczarek/Scoot

Scoot has been steadily making a presence with its on-demand motor scooter rentals in San Francisco over the last six years. And now it's ready to expand.

The company said Wednesday it's launching its dockless rentable motor scooters and a new line of electric bicycles in Barcelona, Spain.

"We thought if we could go anywhere in the world, where would people love this? And Barcelona has a great motorbike and bicycle culture," Michael Keating, Scoot's founder and CEO, said during an interview at the company's San Francisco headquarters. "It's meant to be for locals. Not just a joy-riding thing."

Scoot's motor scooters are not the same as the stand-up electric scooters that have overwhelmed San Francisco over the past two months. They're more like Vespas or mopeds. Scoot also is unlike those other companies -- Bird, Lime and Spin -- in that it hasn't been in a constant fight with the city over regulations.

"You've got to figure out how to mash up your techie startup organization with the city," Keating said. "Otherwise you're going to make a big mess.

"We want to be around in 10 or 20 or 100 years," he added. "We're not trying to grow as big as we can and flame out."

Scoot has been in San Francisco since 2012 and has collaborated with the city the entire time. It's gotten permits, supplies all riders with helmets and has worked with the city on parking. It also pays the city $1 per vehicle per day. Scoot additionally rolled out slowly, rather than overwhelming the streets with its vehicles. The company currently has 650 motor scooters in San Francisco and plans to add another 500 this summer.

"To my mind, [Scoot] has been a model corporate citizen," San Francisco Supervisor Aaron Peskin -- who has fought to regulate Bird, Lime and Spin -- said in an interview in April. "When they get reports of people riding without a helmet or people behaving badly on their scooters, they will actually send those folks an email saying, 'hey you gotta cut this out.'"

As with San Francisco, Scoot has been working with Barcelona's officials to get permits and create a program that works for the city.

"Our goal is to complement cities' existing mobility infrastructure to ensure that Scoot is improving urban transportation for citizens," Scoot's Barcelona General Manager Enrico Sargiacomo said in a statement. 

In San Francisco, Scoot has electric motor scooters that fit one passenger, go about 30 mph and have a range of 20 miles. In Barcelona, it'll have 500 motor scooters that can carry two passengers at up to 50 mph with a 70-mile range. It'll also have 1,000 pedal-assisted electric bicycles that can reach 15 mph.

The idea is to give people an easy and convenient way to get around town while helping ease road congestion and smog. Each motor scooter ride costs a base fare of $4 plus an additional 10 cents for each minute of riding time. So far, people have logged nearly 5 million miles with Scoot in San Francisco.

"We're first mile and last mile and for a lot of people we're all of the miles in between," Keating said. "We're as fast as the Ubers and we're almost as cheap as the bus."

After launching in Spain, Scoot plans to expand more rapidly, with the goal of being in several more cities in Western Europe and the Americas over the next year.

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