Will the streets of Paris soon be invaded by Chinese electric scooters? After the Cityscoot operator launched in the summer of 2016, it is the turn of the Hong Kong brand NIU to market its first vehicle on the French market since March. The Chinese, which has just raised 60 million dollars in series A (and 24 million in crowdfunding) from foreign funds GGV, IDG, Sequoia, Innovation Works and GSR Ventures, will even offer the purchase directly online at the end of 2017. Its two founders, a former chief technology officer of Baidu and a former of Huawei, intend to revolutionize mobility in cities.
“26 million electric scooters are sold each year in China, compared to around 7,000 in all of Europe, so the potential is significant”, notes Joseph Constanty, international director of the manufacturer of connected electric scooters. In China, its first model generated “$13 million in first-week sales.”
Present at the last Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, it has already surrounded itself with partners to ensure its internationalization, such as the brands LG, Panasonic and Bosh for the lithium battery. This recharges in six hours and gives a range of 80 kilometers, “which corresponds to about a week of transport in the city (average use 10-15 km per day)”, advances NIU. The maximum speed of its first model adapted to Europe, the NQis Civic, is 45km/h. The Chinese has also developed a mobile application with his scooter to locate the vehicle in the event of theft, suspicious movement or to check the battery level. The scooters are manufactured in the Shanghai region.
In France, the Chinese is betting on “progressive” measures, and cites “Autolib or Vélib” for sharing transport solutions. Sold for 3,299 euros (2,499 euros for the smallest), the NQis is initially available in Paris and is also eligible for the subsidy granted by the city of “400 euros”, specifies NIU. Aware of being above the prices of gasoline models, NIU advances the savings made on insurance and on refueling.
In Paris, NIU sees Cityscoot not as a competitor but as a “future partner”, particularly on the model of sharing which it is already thinking about.