Ford’s scooter arm targets carbon-negativity as Voi launches Cambridge pilot

e-scooters were legalised in the UK in June

Spin was acquired by Ford in 2018 and currently operates in 62 cities and 20 university and corporate campuses across the US. It also launched in Cologne, Germany, this summer, with Ford planning a wider rollout across Germany and latterly France and other European markets in the coming years.

After undergoing a stark fall in demand in the first half of 2020 and experiencing a surge in demand as lockdown restrictions began to ease across its markets, Spin this week unveiled an ambition of becoming carbon-negative by 2025.

It will quantify how Spin trips are replacing car journeys and calculate the resulting emissions reductions, adding them to its carbon accounting. It will also seek to drive down the emissions associated with its manufacturing, operation and the energy used to power its scooters.

On the latter, targets have been set to switch to 100% renewable electricity for charging and to ensure that all Spin vehicles have a working lifespan of at least 24 months. Spin’s maintenance and company car fleet will also be transitioned to electric vehicles (EVs). If, once these activities are completed, Spin’s net carbon footprint is either positive or net-zero, Spin will invest in offsetting.

“We have to hold ourselves accountable for tracking the carbon emitted in providing our service…If we are truly offering a more sustainable mode of transportation to cities, we should be eliminating more carbon than we produce,” Spin’s senior programme manager for sustainability initiatives, Shivam Vohra, said.

“This is made easier by the fact that we employ a majority of the people deploying, collecting and recharging our scooters, using Spin vans and warehouses. Operators relying on all gig workforces — using personal vehicles and charging at home — face a difficult challenge in accounting for these emissions.”

Scoot over

Spin’s announcement comes in the same week that Swedish e-scooter rental giant Voi unveiled plans to bring its service to Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

From September, residents and visitors will be able to rent scooters for a charge of £1 plus 20 pence per minute, or by purchasing a daily (£10) or monthly (£40) Voi subscription. The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority (CPCA) will offer subsidised passes for low-income groups, at a cost of £10 per month.

The CPCA estimates that the scooters will mitigate 395 tonnes of CO2e within a year, given that they are commonly used to replace short journeys typically taken in petrol or diesel cars. By August 2021, it will come to a decision on extending the roll-out.

Back in March, the Departments for Transport (DfT) and Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) launched a multi-million-pound pot to undertake three real-world e-scooter trials in Portsmouth and Southampton, Derby and Nottingham and the West of England.

Rental e-scooters were then legalised in the UK in late June, as part of the Government’s attempts to encourage active travel post-lockdown. This has prompted more than 50 local authorities to apply to host e-scooter pilots which, by law, can run for a maximum of 12 months.

Sarah George

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