Ford acquires dockless scooter startup Spin

$40 million deal will see it spread to more cities

Ford has bought the San Francisco-based scooter-sharing company Spin. Ford announced the acquisition today, with sources initially valuing the deal at $40 million.

The carmaker views scooter sharing as a first- and last-mile solution, bolstering its traditional business of building and selling cars. As Ford says, "Affordability, combined with ease of use and electrified power, also means scooters can help tackle challenges such as traffic congestion, parking availability and pollution." Ford also cited recent research that says almost half of all trips made in the United States are three miles or shorter.

Spin currently operates in 13 cities in the U.S, and on five college campuses. The dockless scooter business says it will continue to operate under Ford's wing as a standalone business, within Ford's Smart Mobility division. The company says the acquisition and backing mean it now plans to expand operations across U.S, from large to midsize cities and more campuses; Automotive News says the expansion will reach a total of 100 cities in the next 18 months. With its newfound funding, Spin will also continue to hire more people.

Like The Verge says, although Spin is based in San Francisco, there are currently only two scooter startups that are allowed to operate in SF: Skip and Scoot. Spin, Lime and Bird have put their SF operations on hold after a public scooter debate resulted in frozen permits. Between April 11 and May 23, San Francisco city government received almost 1,900 scooter-related complaints, from scooters loosely strewn around the city to unsafe riding. The SFMTA said some 500 scooters were impounded. Since that, Skip and Scoot have each been permitted to operate a maximum of 625 scooters; the number may increase to 2,500 later. Throughout Southern California, there has been a public backlash against the scooters that has often involved vandalism — throwing them in the ocean or setting them on fire.

Electric scooters do have undeniable benefits — as Ford clearly realizes. When cities have a handle on how to regulate them, scooters can help ease congestion and confusion instead of creating more of it.

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