Germany’s upper house of parliament has voted to approve the use of stand-up electric scooters on both roads and bicycle paths, thus paving the way for companies such as Bird Rides, Lime but also Volkswagen to get a jump on the competition.
The new law allows e-scooters with a top speed of 20 km/h (12 mph) to be used by anybody age 14 and older. According to deputy Transport Minister Steffen Bilger, the legislation will take effect next month.
While startups such as Bird and Lime have each raised hundreds of millions of dollars in an attempt to conquer the market, Swedish mobility firm Voi Technology said that it too will look to begin operations in Germany as soon as June, reports Autonews Europe. Voi will begin by offering e-scooters for rent in Herne, a city in North Rhine-Westphalia.
“Germany has been the toughest market so far on the regulation side,” said Voi CEO Fredrik Hjelm. “They have taken a very German approach, focusing on the vehicle, and things like the angle between the back light and the ground.”
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Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for Bird told Bloomberg that the company is “looking forward” to bringing its scooters to German cities.
However, automakers are also interested in this space, with Volkswagen having already unveiled its Cityskater and Streetmate electric scooter concepts in Geneva a few months back. The German automaker said that the Cityskater will go on sale by the end of the year, boasting a 15 km (9 mile) range.
Other car brands that could take advantage of such new regulations are Seat, who designed the eXS KickScooter using EV technology from Segway’s ES2 model – but also Ford, who recently acquired Spin, a leading provider of dockless, app-enabled electric scooters.
Yet, there are those such as the German cycling association who have lobbied for speed restrictions for the e-scooters, as well as new regulation that would prevent them from being used on sidewalks.