By Reethu Ravi and Sharon Lewis This article is the third of a four-part Tech’s Year in Review series reviewing developments across industries in 2020. It discusses the world of lifestyle tech, focusing on esports and gaming, entertainment and media, and travel. The year 2020 was a tumultuous [...]
Singapore-headquartered Neuron Mobility, Australia and New Zealand’s leading rental electric scooter operator, has announced further international expansion as it launches a fleet of its safety-first e-scooters in the Korean capital, Seoul, from 5 March.
The arrival of Neuron’s distinctive orange e-scooters to Seoul builds on the Singaporean company’s wider expansion drive which has already seen the company win contracts in three cities in Australia and New Zealand, and three cities in the United Kingdom over the last six months.
Neuron’s decision to launch in Korea — a country which had previously left e-scooters largely-unregulated — was made after the government’s recent introduction of stricter rules which outline how e-scooters should be ridden and operated. Micromobility continues to boom in many Korean cities, and with an increased focus on safety and enforcement by the authorities, it has become attractive to Neuron as the company specialises in operating in highly-regulated and safety-conscious markets.
Neuron will be launching their Korean-spec e-scooter which is fitted with the world’s first app-controlled helmet lock. This electronically secures a safety helmet to every e-scooter, releasing it at the start of the trip so they are available to all riders. This will be an important differentiator in Korean market where recently-updated laws require all riders to wear a helmet.
Zachary Wang, CEO of Neuron Mobility said: “We’re delighted to launch in Seoul, we’ve been studying the rise in popularity of e-scooters in Korea for some time. Now that new regulations are being introduced, as well as an increased focus on safety, we think it’s the perfect time to bring our safely-leading e-scooters, and collaborative ways of working to the city.”
He continued: “Wherever we operate in the world we welcome good regulations and we have a major focus on safety. We are already talking to the authorities in Seoul and have demonstrated our helmet lock and other safety features. We look forward to adapting to meet their needs as well as those of Seoul’s safety-conscious riders.”
The company will initially deploy 2,000 Korean-spec e-scooters to test and refine operations before scaling significantly later in the year. The launch will create over 100 jobs in Korea which will be recruited locally, and Neuron’s ongoing expansion will lead to an additional 30 roles in their Singapore headquarters.
In September 2020 the Neuron announced a funding round led by top Australian venture capital firm, Square Peg, along with GSR Ventures, bringing their total Series A funding to USD$30.5 million. The capital has put the company in a strong position to accelerate international expansion post COVID-19, and to maintain industry leadership when it comes to innovation and safety.
Over the last six months Neuron has won new contracts to operate in Canberra, Townsville and Dunedin in Australia and New Zealand. In the United Kingdom it has secured contracts in Slough, Newcastle and Sunderland.
Neuron’s industry-leading e-scooters are built specifically for renting and rider safety. The company was the first to implement a full suite of geofencing, allowing councils to better control where and how fast e-scooters can be ridden. Neuron’s e-scooters were also the first to feature interchangeable batteries for greener operations. They were the first to integrate Voice Guidance to educate users to ride safely. Neuron also launched the world’s first app-controlled Helmet Lock, which secures a safety helmet to the e-scooters between trips for the benefit of safety-conscious riders.
Neuron has introduced a range of other innovations including a topple detection feature that can detect if an e-scooter has been left on its side which then alerts an operations team to reposition it safely; an emergency button which can tell if someone has had a fall and helps the rider call the emergency services; and, a “Follow my Ride” feature allows the rider’s friends and family to track an e-scooter trip in real time for added safety and peace of mind.
Neuron riders are required to be at least 18 years old, with a valid driver’s licence. On 12 January 2021 new, tightened, regulations were also promulgated in Korea to enforce laws that require all e-scooter riders to wear safety helmets.