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Sustainability and the Contribution of Electric Scooter Sharing Business Models to Urban Mobility

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There has been a rapid uptake of electric scooter (e-scooter) sharing services in cities in recent years. However, the academic literature is still scarce on how e-scooter operators contribute to sustainable urban mobility through their business models. In this qualitative case study, we analyse the sustainability of these rapidly evolving sharing services through a frame of sustainable business model archetypes, and study value transfer, its obstacles, and its controversies within the Finnish urban transport system. While e-scooter services mainly target delivering functionality over ownership, according to the operators, combinations of approaches are applied that contribute positively to sustainability. These include, for example, increasing the lifecycle of scooters, recycling of scooters and their parts, using renewable energy, commi ing to climate compensation, and promoting road safety and the responsible use of scooters. The findings indicate that in Finland, e-scooter services are seen to have potential in serving the first and last miles of public transport journeys. Due to a lack of binding regulation, co- and self-regulation is emphasized and is supported by active information and data sharing with public authorities. While sustainability is embedded in many ways into the business models of e-scooter operators, there are still potential sources of unsustainability aff ecting the urban transport system. For example, current business models favour convenience over physical activity, which can reduce the amount of active travel and use of city bikes.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2021

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  • Built Environment is published quarterly in March, June, September and December. With an emphasis on crossing disciplinary boundaries and providing global perspective, each issue focuses on a single subject of contemporary interest to practitioners, academics and students working in a wide range of disciplines. Issues are guest-edited by established international experts who not only commission contributions, but also oversee the peer-reviewing process in collaboration with the Editors.

    Subject areas include: architecture; conservation; economic development; environmental planning; health; housing; regeneration; social issues; spatial planning; sustainability; urban design; and transport. All issues include reviews of recent publications.

    The journal is abstracted in Geo Abstracts, Sage Urban Studies Abstracts, and Journal of Planning Literature, and is indexed in the Avery Index to Architectural Publications.

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