Bird, the Santa Monica electric scooter startup that’s raised $415 million in venture capital to date, today announced a monthly rental program that will complement its existing on-demand service. In exchange for a $24.99 flat-rate fee (which amounts to about a dollar a day), customers get unlimited rides on a personal scooter.
Scooter rentals will roll out first to San Francisco and Barcelona “in the coming weeks,” with additional cities to follow this spring. Folks interested can add their name to the waitlist, which went live this morning.
Here’s how it works: Within the Bird app, users enter pertinent details such as where and when they’d like their Bird scooter delivered. After they place the order, a representative will follow up to confirm and arrange for a scooter, charger, and lock to be delivered. When the rental period expires, a rep will come and pick up the vehicle and accessories.
Bird is pitching rentals as a more affordable, “equitable” option than other means of transportation. (Normally, renting a Bird scooter costs $1 to unlock and 15 cents per minute.) It points to a study that found that the average low-income Bay Area household spends as much as 24% of income on commutes.
“Renting a Bird for an entire month of unlimited use will cost less than just a couple of ride hail trips or parking garage days in most cities,” said Travis VanderZanden, Bird founder and CEO. “With personal rentals, we are providing greater access to a sustainable form of transportation that people can depend upon for more affordable and convenient daily commuting needs.”
However, it’s worth noting that Bird appears to be attempting to skirt local restrictions on electric scooter usage. San Francisco has only permitted two companies in its pilot program — Skip and Scoot — to maintain e-scooter fleets so far, and Barcelona hasn’t approved Bird to operate.
Bird — which was founded in 2017 by former Lyft and Uber Travis VanderZanden — has myriad competitors, but its chief rival might be e-scooter startup Lime, which has raised $765 million to date.
San Francisco-based Spin was snapped up by Ford for a reported $100 million last year. Meanwhile, Jump Bikes raked in $10 million last January before it was acquired by Uber in April and expanded into electric scooters. Overseas, Dutch startup Dott recently secured $23 million for its fleet of electric scooters and bikes, and Sweden’s Voi raised $50 million to expand its electric scooters to more cities across Europe.
Bird is undoubtedly better-funded than many of its competitors, with recent contributions from Sequoia, Accel, Greycroft, and other investors valuing it at roughly $2 billion. It also has a broader geographic reach — it operates across dozens of markets in the U.S., including Santa Monica, where it’s headquartered, as well as Austin, Baltimore, Dallas, Detroit, San Diego, Washington, D.C., and Paris. And somewhat uniquely, Bird custom-designs its scooters and operates a program that enables operators to use its infrastructure to run their own fleet of shared, branded electric scooters.