Dockless bike sharing startups — such as Ofo, Mobike and LimeBike — have flooded European cities with rides that can be hired at the tap of an app in recent years.
But fierce competition in the urban mobility space is not deterring Uber from peddling into the region, and attempting to put some shine back on a brand that’s still divisive — charged with all sorts of problematic effects from rising congestion and air pollution to having a damaging impact on workers’ rights.
It’s certainly true that the hangover from Uber’s legacy operational style of brash expansionism and thumbing its nose at regulators continues to cause the company problems in Europe.
Many cities have banned its p2p service, and last year — in a major upset — London’s transport regulator withdrew its license to operate.
Though under new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi Uber has also been expanding in some European markets — where regulatory requirements allow.
Uber’s new chief executive has taken a strikingly different tone vs founder Travis Kalanick, saying he wants to work with cities and local authorities, rather than fight them.
Today at the NOAH conference in Berlin that emollient tone was on show again, with Khosrowshahi announcing that Uber’s Jump electric bike sharing service will launch in the city this summer.
“Here in Germany, I am determined to have a better dialogue with cities and various German stakeholders to discuss how we can shape the future of urban mobility together. Uber stands ready to help address some of the biggest challenges facing German cities: tackling air pollution, reducing congestion and increasing access to cleaner transportation solutions,” he said.
Other unnamed European cities are also slated to launch in the coming months. And bikes can’t be accused of exacerbating air pollution or road-based congestion.
Khosrowshahi also said Uber will also launch its all-electric vehicle Uber Green service in Berlin by the end of the year, following a recent launch in Munch — saying that was Uber “playing our part in tackling air pollution”.
“I’m thrilled to announce two new products for Berlin that are an important first step in developing our long term partnership with Germany — our Jump pedal-assist electric bikes and the introduction of a fully electric Uber Green service,” he added. “The team is working hard to bring Jump to Berlin by the end of this summer and we also plan to launch in additional cities across Europe in the coming months.
“We’re particularly excited about bikes because they can provide a convenient, environmentally friendly ride even in dense cities where space is limited and roads can be congested.”
Uber acquired the Jump bike sharing startup back in April, paying around $200M according to a source close to the situation.
The Jump bikes use electrical assistance so renters do still need to pedal. On a full charge the bikes have a range of 30 to 40 miles.
Uber deploys teams to service bikes but its Help Center warns users “the bike you rent might not be at full charge” — so the rider can end up having to do work without assistance from the motor if the battery goes flat.