The Last Mile Problem Solved? NIU's E-Mopeds Hit the United States
China's startup NIU has started selling vehicles in the US, bringing its Vespa-style electric mopeds to customers.
Every day as people travel to work, go to meetings, grab a coffee or meet friends, the average maximum distance covered is 3-6 kilometers. Everyone travels within that distance. So, the NIU (NASDAQ: NIU) company team asked themselves – "what kind of vehicle can conveniently travel that distance?"
"The goal we set for ourselves was to find the solution to the problem of city traffic. After a lot of research into the situation in China, the US and Europe, we didn’t think electric cars could solve the problem. There are enough cars on the road already," the company co-founder and the head of production, Token Hu, said in an interview.
After working together with the Revel Electric Moped Sharing Platform for a while in New York City, NIU company decided to start selling its electric mopeds directly to individuals. With this move, NIU extends its global footprint beyond Europe and Asia to the Americas, where it plans to introduce a new generation of Americans to 'scooter' culture, but without the gasoline and noise.
NIU's mopeds are typically quick and agile, with ranges as low as around 25 miles and as high as over 100 miles. They're also connected to your phone, which allows users to track things like recent rides, battery levels, estimated range and theft protection. NIU has built a companion smartphone app that can track the mopeds via GPS, turn them on or off or let users check vehicle diagnostics. NIU can also ship over-the-air software updates to add features, make changes or fix problems with the vehicles.
NIU's official distribution partner for the United States is Genuine Scooters, based in Chicago, Illinois, which brings more than two decades of moped sales experience to the partnership. NIU and Genuine will be targeting retail sales in key urban markets with a high density of millennials and universities, such as New York, Chicago, Austin, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami, Phoenix, and Boston.
However, there seems to be a one basic problem regarding the company’s United States expansion. That is, unlike Asia and Europe, United States does not have a scooter culture, which might be mirrored negatively in NIU’s future sales.
Yet NIU seem to be confident with their decisions and optimistic about the Unites States market: "The United States doesn’t have a 'scooter' culture like you will find in Europe, but we believe this is all about to change, as more millennials living in cities look for new, smart, convenient and electric forms of personal transportation," says Yan Li, NIU CEO and co-founder.
Time will show whether NIU will be able to create a new scooter culture in the US and take over the market. But they seem to be ready to solve America’s the last mile problem.