Ireland Seen As Top Prospect For E-Scooter Rental Firms

Increasing numbers of international players in the e-scooter rental market are looking to expand into Ireland after the anticipated passage of legislation allowing the use of such equipment on roadways in the Republic.

Among the hopeful entrants into the market are Berlin’s Tier and Voi out of Sweden. Both companies have made public their plans to begin serving the Irish market as soon as circumstances permit. Lime, based in California, has indicated that it is not quite prepared to launch in the country, but will be monitoring developments “with interest.”

Estonian newcomer, Bolt, which brought its taxi-hailing technology to Ireland in recent days, has also revealed that it has plans to enter the e-scooter market in Ireland.

These developments come on the heels of Green Party leader and Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan’s suggestion that he hoped to introduce legislation facilitating the use of e-scooters on Irish roads imminently.

Voi, which has initiated a $160 million fundraising round related to fuel expansion, was one of several e-scooter enterprises who participated in public commentary on the matter in recent months.

A company spokesperson indicated to the Irish Times that Voi was eager to begin operations in Ireland, but would only proceed once the regulatory and legal rules were clearly in place. 

Voi has tallied over 30 million rides since its inception and can be found in 11 countries. The firm is working in collaboration with Irish start-up Luna to integrate its sensor innovations into scooters used in England.

Scooter firm Tier, which has also engaged in aggressive fundraising from entities such as SoftBank out of Japan, has also stated its intention to begin serving Irish customers as quickly as the law allows. Tier has a presence in 10 countries and has 60,000 e-scooters on offer through its own proprietary app. The company recently entered the UK market by launching a 12-month trial engagement in York.

Tier’s general manager for operations within Ireland and the UK, Fred Jones, said that the Irish market is poised to be extremely important for the company, and that the company’s aspirations go far beyond Dublin, referencing Tier’s current presence in numerous localities with populations under 100,000.

Though Ireland and England have been somewhat late to the game when it comes to e-scooters, at least in comparison to other European regions, Jones said that this fact could be a potential positive, as the countries could potentially avoid some of the growing pains experienced by other nations when e-scooters first hit the scene. Some of those issues involved defective scooters and problems with renters leaving the scooters randomly on local streets.

The legislation expected to be introduced in Ireland would ban e-scooters from footpaths and would restrict their speed to no greater than 25kph. However, under the proposed rules, those using e-scooters would not be subject to any formal licensing requirements.

According to statistics kept through October of last year, nearly 40 collisions involving e-scooters were reported, and at least 90 scooters were confiscated by Irish police.