Online electric micromobility dealership Ridepanda has announced a raise of $3.75 million that the startup will use to build out its engineering, product and design teams to boost its e-commerce and B2B solutions. The company also wants to double down on strategic partnerships with delivery fleets and businesses offering employees commuter benefits if they purchase an electric vehicle.
Last year, e-bike and e-scooter sales skyrocketed. A Bicycle Association report detailing the impact of COVID-19 on the U.K. cycling economy from January to October 2020 revealed sales of e-bikes more than doubled. Between April and September, they saw a 92% YoY rise in sales. Deloitte has predicted that in 2023, e-bike sales will top 40 million units worldwide, generating over $22 billion. In a market increasingly favorable to electric micromobility options, Ridepanda’s business could lead sales of electric bikes, scooters and mopeds for both consumers and fleets.
“60% of in-car trips take place within zero to five miles, and we think there is a better way to go,” CEO and co-founder of Ridepanda, Chinmay Malaviya, told TechCrunch. “Electric cars is one solution, but we think that our vehicles are cheaper, a lot more accessible, more affordable, more practical, better for traffic congestion, easy to store, easy to park, easy to charge, environmentally friendly and a lot more fun because of the added health benefits.”
Ridepanda, which is based in San Francisco but ships to 48 U.S. states, offers a suite of light electric vehicles, from Segway-Ninebot e-scooters to Aventon e-bikes to Niu e-mopeds. The company would not reveal how many vehicles it’s sold since its founding in 2019, but Malaviya told TechCrunch it’s a four-digit number.
Co-founder and CTO Charlie Depman says e-bikes are the most popular, directly followed by scooters. Mopeds still have some room for growth, but Depman suspects part of the reason for the lower sales in that category are ongoing pandemic-related, supply-chain issues.
Ridepanda vets each vehicle on its site upfront, ensuring all parts are high quality and easy to repair and replace, something that’s very useful if you’ve ever had the frustrating experience of taking your malfunctioning e-scooter to a traditional bike shop.
When a user comes to Ridepanda’s site, they can use the refined recommendation engine which helps customers choose the right vehicle for their particular use case, whether that’s commuting in the city or leisure rides in the suburbs and everything in between.
“A fifth of our customers don’t know what type of vehicle they want when they come to our site,” Depman told TechCrunch. “We give you a ranked set of recommendations for your use case and feature preferences, and you’ll be taken to the vehicle page where we show you more about our dealership and offer maintenance plans, roadside assistance, et cetera to make ownership easy. Basically it’s as easy as it is to own a car, but a lot of this infrastructure isn’t in place for light electric vehicle ownership.”
Vehicles are mailed directly to the customer, who can choose to assemble it or have a trained technician come to the house for home assembly.
It’s this hands-on approach that the company wants to improve with the fresh funding, specifically automating the post-purchase fulfillment process and building out after sales service in the form of its PandaCare app.
“PandaCare has been our flagship dealership offering that has all of the maintenance and roadside assistance and extended warranty,” said Depman. “So ideally this app would entail having access to all those services and being able to call a mechanic to come work on your vehicle. It could also notify you about doing preventative maintenance, or notify us about doing preventative maintenance, so we can help extend the vehicle’s lifetime.”
Ridepanda is also working on creating a more personalized geographic approach on the product side. Laws and regulations around these vehicles differ from state to state, as do potential rebates and purchase incentives.
In February, Representative Earl Blumenauer of Oregon introduced the Electric Bicycle Incentive Kickstart for the Environment (E-BIKE) Act, which would give a 30% refundable tax credit on the purchase of a new e-bike. The bill hasn’t yet made its way through Congress, but if it passes, and there’s good reason to think it might, Ridepanda hopes to be able to help facilitate the corresponding rise in sales.
Malaviya said Ridepanda is also partnering with the county of San Mateo’s utility provider Peninsula Clean Energy to roll out local e-bike rebates, helping low income communities access them at the point of purchase.
“We are very excited to see how we can play a role as a tech partner, as well as a choice platform for consumers in terms of integrating and making it very seamless and easy for folks to take advantage of these rebates and subsidies out there,” said Malaviya.
The $3.75 million round, which is an extension of the company’s seed funding last year, is led by Porsche Ventures, Yamaha Motor Ventures and Proeza Ventures, with participation from angel investor Toby Sun, co-founder of Lime, and Silicon Valley VC General Catalyst, according to Malaviya.
“There’s a lot we can gain from these partnerships,” said Malaviya. “From Yamaha, how do you manage dealerships to supply chains to even actually getting access to the bikes and mopeds? Same with Porsche. They also released a high-end e-bike and we’re excited to also work with them in accessing dealerships and the product, and also the branding piece. And Proeza, we’re pretty excited for all the supply chain expertise we can gain. What is also key about these folks is Porshe’s HQ is in Germany, Yamaha in Japan and Proeza in Latin America. As we look to go outside of the U.S., this could be very helpful.”