We also saw further consolidation happen in the shared micromobility industry, e-bikes and e-mopeds start to make a dent in delivery and logistics networks and a few promising policy initiatives that might just get people out of cars and onto smaller form factors.

With 2022 in our rearview mirror, we can now look to how technology, policy and public sentiment will drive 2023’s micromobility trends.

E-bike maker Sondors filed for an IPO in October 2022. If and when the company goes public, it’ll be the first e-bike company in the U.S. to do so. Might other electric bike manufacturers follow suit in 2023 and beyond?

“The public markets are less about the biggest and baddest tech and more about something that’s perhaps simpler and proven to turn a profit,” James Gross, co-founder of Micromobility Industries, told TechCrunch. “Companies that are going public right now are companies that can show cash flow.”

Gross further speculated that Rad Power Bikes might be next to the public markets. In November, founder Mike Radenbaugh stepped down from his position as CEO and into a chairman role, putting the former president of Sony Electronics and Dyson America into his old seat. Gross said that was a “very strong proof point towards most likely a public market offering.”

More bike companies in the public markets could help push the narrative around e-bikes outselling electric cars in America. 

“Part of being public is the professionalization of the category, and the reporting to show there’s more of these things shipping, maybe we should pay attention to them,” said Gross.

2022 was a year and a half for the shared micromobility space, and it started with at least one major acquisition.  

So who will survive? The pool is getting smaller, but we think there’s still room for cuts. Only a few operators will remain by the end of 2023, and those will be very deeply entrenched with their markets.

One of the main reasons shared micromobility companies are dropping off is because it’s kind of an unsustainable business model. There are certainly ways to bring down CapEx and increase ridership, but nothing will help turn revenue into profit if the relationship most operators have with cities still verges on hostile.

Shared companies started out thinking that riders were customers, when really their customers are governments. Many companies have already come to this realization, but they’re still in the ass-kissing phase of the relationship. Operators have fallen over themselves trying to appease cities and win permits in a competitive land grab, and as a result have found themselves often in either over-regulated or under-regulated markets and operating at a loss. 

2023 might be the year these companies set some ground rules for cities and their ridiculous RFPs so they can actually stand a chance at profitability. 

“Most scooter tenders are trials or one or two-year tenders,” said Gross. “Most of the time, when you sell to government, you sell five- to 10-year-long projects. The idea that we would start on these short projects and see how they go has not worked well. It leads to a very hard structure for you to invest.”

“Imagine you’re a year into a tender, and now they want six new pieces of technology on a product,” Gross continued. “Have you forecasted that? Have you budgeted for that? It’s incredibly hard to actually build a business that way.”

In the past, governments knew these companies were chasing a growth model backed by VC funding, so they could ask for whatever they wanted. But now, as operators are actively leaving unprofitable markets, they’ll have to push back at governments and refuse to fill out RFPs that will lead to more of the same. 

2022 saw an uptick in shared micromobility operators implementing scooter ARAS — systems that help detect and prevent sidewalk riding and parking. That same sort of tech is slowly making its way to privately owned e-bikes as the industry looks to convert would-be riders. 

“There is a major convergence happening in which bike tech is quickly catching up to automobile tech. There are more connected bikes hitting the market everyday,” Will White, co-founder of Mapbox, an online map provider, told TechCrunch. “Bikes are already starting to ship with integrated ADAS features like radar for rear-vehicle detection, but this is just the beginning. Soon, we will start to see more technology to provide safety and comfort for riders, including AI-equipped cameras for hazard detection, and smarter turn-by-turn navigation that guides riders on the most comfortable route out of harm’s way.”

White said safety and security are the top concerns for prospective e-bike buyers. Aside from alerts to danger on the road, features like navigation to avoid dangerous roads and asset tracking to deter thieves and enable recovery of stolen bikes will help to spur greater adoption.

E-bike subsidies, consolidation and IPOs: Our 2023 micromobility predictions by Rebecca Bellan originally published on TechCrunch