A popular rental item with tourists and urban commuters before the pandemic, electric scooters are making a resurgence — this time among those wanting to purchase the two-wheeled micro-mobile devices.
Manufacturers are seeing brisk sales as electric scooters have become must-have items for a number of youths. Scooter makers saw big sales increases during the Covid-19 pandemic last year as people stuck at home looked for fun diversions, and the trend has continued this year, NPD analyst Juli Lennett told Investor’s Business Daily.
As offices begin to reopen, the electric kick scooters that first started showing up a few years ago could get yet another lift in sales from urban commuters in 2021. And some scooter makers say rentals are starting to come back as well.
“They’re definitely growing in popularity,” Lennett said. “What’s behind it is Covid. It’s something that kids can play together with outside and still stay six feet apart.”
Rental Scooters Primed The Market
Rental scooter services such as Bird and Lime primed the market by getting people accustomed to a new mode of transportation starting around 2017-18. Those app-based services became a try-before-you-buy marketing opportunity for scooter hardware vendors.
As early adopters began getting electric scooters, others wanted them.
“It had a snowball effect,” Lennett said.
Seeing the emerging trend, Bird started selling scooters to consumers in 2019. The Los Angeles-based company plans to go public in a merger with Switchback II (SWBK), a special-purpose acquisition company, this quarter.
And China-based Niu Technologies (NIU), a maker of electric mopeds, jumped into the market with its first electric scooter in the U.S. on July 13. Its Niu KQi3 scooters start at $529.
‘Huge Spike’ In Sales Last Year
Global sales of electric kick scooters reached $2.54 billion in 2020, with China the largest market, Grand View Research says. Sales are forecast to hit $5.19 billion by 2028, growing at a compound annual rate of 10.3% from 2021 to 2028.
Sales of electronic kick scooters in North America totaled $185.1 million in 2020, according to Grand View Research. It sees the market growing at a compound annual rate of 19.6% from 2021 to 2028.
Jeff Lawrence, marketing director of Dallas-based GoTrax, said electric scooter sales in the U.S. saw a “huge spike” last year.
“We are seeing continued year-over-year growth,” Lawrence told IBD. “We will sell more electric scooters this year than last year, even with last year’s extreme growth.”
Lawrence predicts there will be a shakeout in the market, with only companies that provide good post-sale support thriving.
Private Firms Dominate Electric Scooters
The electric scooter market is highly fragmented and dominated by privately held firms such as Razor USA, GoTrax, Segway, Swagtron and more.
Electric scooters come in a broad range of prices depending on their capabilities. The cheapest such scooters are in the toy category, starting around $130. The most expensive electric scooters have smart security features such as locking and tracking. They also can exceed 15 miles per hour and travel farther between charges. These products run from about $300 to more than $1,000.
That’s just the scooter. Riders also need to buy helmets because of safety issues.
“We have seen significant growth (in e-scooters) over the past year,” a Walmart spokesperson said in an email. “Walmart sells these items both in store and online, with an expanded assortment being offered online.”
Commuter Market Big For Electric Scooters
GoTrax believes the urban commuter market is a bigger opportunity than the recreational market, Lawrence says.
“For us, the commuter market has been on fire,” Lawrence said. “It is the single most common reason for using an electric scooter.”
The company’s most popular scooter is the GoTrax G4 electric scooter, which lists for $599.99. It has a range of 25 miles between charges and can travel at up to 20 miles per hour.
Retail tracker NPD recorded 3.3 million buyers of toy-category electric scooters in the U.S. in 2019. These scooters have a speed limit of 15 mph. The number of buyers jumped to 6.2 million in 2020 and is on pace to match that this year.
Dollar sales of such scooters have more than doubled in the last two years, NPD’s Lennett said. Sales totaled $96 million for the 12-month period ended in May 2019. Sales reached $225 million for the 12-month period ending May 2021.
Follow Patrick Seitz on Twitter at @IBD_PSeitz for more stories on consumer technology, software and semiconductor stocks.
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