Lyft partners with Segway to deploy more durable scooters

Lyft is gearing up to roll out its next generation of shared scooters in partnership with Segway Ninebot. This comes on the heels of Segway-Ninebot’s announcement of its newest scooter, the Model Max.

The Model Max was designed with the realization that wear and tear is a major issue for shared electric scooter services. It’s supposed to be stronger, have a better rider experience and more operational efficiency, with a battery that can last 37.5 miles on a single charge, compared to just 15 miles.

To help with bumpy roads, the Model Max features air-filled, 10-inch front and rear wheels, versus 8-inch ones. The scooters also feature a wider baseboard.

Lyft first launched its electric scooters in Denver, Colo. back in September. Since thenLyft has brought its scooters to eight additional markets in the U.S. Lyft plans to deploy its new scooters “in the coming months,” Lyft Head of Brand for Bikes and Scooters Ethan Eyler told TechCrunch at a Lyft Hub in Las Vegas. More specifically, Eyler said it’d be the latter half of Q1 or early Q2.Lyft also plans to deploy some Segway-Ninebot scooters with swappable batteries “soon,” Eyler said.

“I think we’re learning, you know,” Eyler said. “I mean, this scooter is the result of a lot of learnings that we’ve done and seeing how the scooters hold up. And with the entire strategy behind charging and swappable batteries and charging, we’re learning from all of that to kind of get to our ultimate plan.”

Swappable batteries can be a useful way to increase vehicle availability and overall vehicle downtime spent charging batteries. Last month, Skip unveiled a new scooter with swappable batteries for those exact reasons.

When Lyft first launched its scooters, it relied on ones from Xiaomi. Not too long after, in October, Xiaomi sent a cease-and-desist letter to Lyft, demanding the company stop using its scooters. Lyft now says it doesn’t have any plans to add any additional Xiaomi scooters to its fleet.

It’s worth noting Xiaomi is a minority shareholder in Segway-Ninebot, and one of its early strategic investors, but Segway operates independently of Xiaomi.

Other scooter companies that rely on Segway-Ninebot include Lime, the now Ford-owned Spin and Uber’s JUMP bike and scooter brand. Meanwhile, Bird has a partnership with Xiaomi for its electric scooters. Moving forward, Lyft has yet to determine if it will work with additional manufacturing partners.

“I think it’s still to be determined,” Eyler said, “Looking at all the potential partners, Segway-Ninebot, in our opinion, builds the best scooters in the market.”

In addition to new scooters, Lyft is working on docking systems for scooters. This was inspired by Lyft’s acquisition of dock-based bike-share system Motivate, Eyler said.

“A lot of the cities we’ve spoken with are very excited about this concept,” Eyler said.

That’s because docks can be a way to provide some order to electric scooter parking, while also providing some assurance to riders that there will be scooters where they expect them to be, Eyler said. Still, riders won’t be required to dock scooters in these stations. They also won’t be required to lock the scooters, despite concerns of theft.

“I mean, [theft] definitely occurs,” Eyler said. “You’re never going to be able to stop all bad actors. We also think this is just a much more prominent vehicle and it feels less of something you could pick up and carry off. Our hope is that will cut down on [theft].”

Locks are not completely off the table, Eyler said, but Lyft is not currently developing locking mechanisms.

To read about how we got to where we are today, check out a recap of the year of scooters below.