The novel coronavirus has brought the shared scooter and bike business to the brink of financial collapse. Demand has evaporated — an analysis of credit card data by The New York Times found that spending on scooter rentals had fallen the most of all transportation modes, by nearly 100 percent — companies are laying off employees en masse, and their previously sky-high valuations have been almost wiped out. Rather than basking in the sun and delighting in the reduced car traffic, the scooter industry is looking at end times.
“The big scooter companies are losing so much money right now,” said Courtney Ehrlichman, former deputy executive director of Carnegie Mellon University’s mobility research institute. “They’re just trying to hold their pants on. I don’t see them being really strategic. And who’s gonna throw money in to do that right now?”