By Jocelyn Loumeto, Head of FPMM
The Business of Mobility is an Urban Mobility Company series highlighting some of the most successful new businesses in the mobility sector. Featuring a closer look at the way in which companies stand out, CEOs, Directors and other c-level executives elaborate on what it takes to turn a great idea into a great company.
FPMM (Fédération des Professionnels de la Micromobilité) is France’s industry organization for micromobility importers, manufacturers, insurance companies, service operators (rental, repair, training…) and retailers. Among its 42 members FPMM also counts some dockless sharing companies: Dott, Voi and WIND and those working on the B2B rental business (M-Wheel, Plume, Green-Rider). Although e-scooters are the most important device for FPMM, their mandate also includes e-skateboards, gyro scooters, Segways, e-wheels and variations on these technologies. Jocelyn Loumeto discusses what FPMM is doing to ensure e-scooters have their permanent place in the mobility ecosystem.
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Why an industry organisation for e-scooters?
Kick-scooters – almost overnight – went from a children’s toy to a serious urban mobility solution with many young city dwellers turning to them as a commuting solution – and then big sharing companies hopped on the band wagon. Now, the industry needs to catch up with itself and enhance its image with self-regulation and consumer protection.
What is a customer to think when they see such a range of prices, from 200 Euro to 5 000 Euro for something that looks similar and seems to do the same thing? As the industry we need to educate customers about what they’re paying for and why. The people selling and renting these devices must take some responsibility for how they are used. That’s where we come in.
One of our main tasks is to work on general product safety to develop labelling and other consumer information that protects the consumer. Customers should have all the necessary safety, regulatory, and legal knowledge about the product. For example, did you know that in France its mandatory for e-scooter drivers on public roads to have third party insurance? By contrast, e-bike riders don’t need third party insurance. So, we give our members the tools (flyers, documents, etc.) to communicate relevant information to customers.
Legislation surrounding e-mobility…reinventing the wheel
Before FPMM I worked for the French Standardization Association (AFNOR is the French acronym). In 2012 my boss at AFNOR put me onto the project for e-scooter standards. Through that I met up with manufacturers, who eventually approached me to help develop FPMM. Because I had the background from public authorities matters and leading European technical committees, I was fully aware that a European Standard for micromobility would be the key factor for future safe economic development. We started discussing the technical content of the PLEV (for Personal Light Electric Vehicle) standard in 2012, with a wide variety of industries involved and excellent technical input from global experts (including the Chinese and the Americans). Happily, France’s regulation has adopted most of the European standards. But it’s a pity that some other European countries – particularly Germany – have diverged from this work when implementing their own micromobility national regulation. Anyhow, we will continue to encourage our partners in the rest of Europe to use the European Standards as their regulatory foundation.
Are e-scooters unsafe?
I’ve look at the data on accidents and it’s clear that e-scooters are one of the safer forms of transport. They only go to 25 km/h and they’re light. Collisions with pedestrians do happen, but they only make up 14% of e-scooter accidents and the vast majority of these accidents are not serious. The real lethal issue is e-scooters colliding with cars or riders simply falling over. So, the problem is not so much e-scooters on pavements – even though it is a real concern to not dismiss – , it’s more about the mix of cars and micromobility. And this is the same issue for bicycles. E-scooters are usually using bike lanes and obviously the more infrastructure there is for bikes and micromobility, the better. I suppose if we want to improve our nomenclature we should perhaps speak of ‘slow mobility lanes’ or ‘soft lanes’ as opposed to ‘bike lanes’.
Rental versus ownership
In 2019 France had no fewer than 12 sharing companies, with around 25 000 free-floating scooters. This is not much compared to the total sales of e-scooters in France at that point, which was around 480 000. So our industry is driven primarily by sales to consumers. Still, rental companies are important stakeholders and have a key role to play in helping cities regulate the use of e-scooters. And here I think it’s really important that sharers and manufacturers unite in developing global standards. Currently there is no tech specification for e-scooters used by sharing companies. We know that some sharing companies have their own tech standards and they’re usually good. But we need a baseline for these tech standards so cities can easily benchmark sharing operators and operators can prove their credibility.
A united micromobility industry
Is FPMM looking to create a Europe-wide micromobility industry organisation? Yes and no. There are moves in other European countries to develop industry organisations and we very much welcome this. Although FPMM is the most established micromobility industry organisation, we cannot go and impose ourselves on the European level. We need other European countries to develop their industry organisations and then we can talk to them as equals and eventually form a European umbrella for national industry organisations. Something like what bike manufacturers have with CONEBI (Confederation of the European Biking Industry).
E-scooters are now established on our streets and the industry should defend this established fact by setting and adhering to regulations that protect riders and fellow road users. We’ve seen how at first the bike industry thought e-scooters were just a toy and didn’t take them seriously. And then when e-scooters took off there was inevitably some pushback. But today everyone can see that e-bikes and e-scooters have their own separate place in the mobility ecosystem. E-scooters have the advantage of being easily taken on public transport and stowed (liked under the desk) at the end of a journey. They’re more and more adopted by the younger market and they are starting develop their own unique sub-culture and communities. I look forward to continuing our work with private and public players to develop the necessary consumer protection and regulatory frameworks to guarantee micromobility its appropriate place in the mobility ecosystem.
Did you miss FPMM at Autonomy Digital 2.0? Login to the platform today and re-watch their discussion “La qualité de service pour les utilisateurs : levier de développement de la micro-mobilité”.