As start-ups go, TIER Mobility’s e-scooters have some serious backers. SoftBank Vision Fund 2i has just rounded up $250 million in support for the micro mobility provider; bolstering a rank of backers that includes former F1 world champion Nico Rosberg and the UAE state via Abu Dhabi’s influential Mubadala Investment Company.
TIER’s mix of app-ordered, affordable, shared technology has marked it out as the leading European firm in its corner of the e-mobility wheelhouse and it is already operating in more than 80 cities across 10 different countries worldwide. Thanks to a new partnership with Dubai’s RTA (Roads and Transport Authority), the Berlin-based company’s ties with the Gulf are set to go deeper than a financial bond with TIER pledging itself to a mission to ‘change mobility for good’.
Roger Hassan, COO, TIER Mobility tells T&FME, that TIER wants to support Dubai’s vision in becoming a futuristic, smart and sustainable city.
“The history of TIER starts back in October 2018, when we launched our e-scooter service in our first city, Vienna, Austria. We are headquartered in Berlin, Germany, and within the last two years, we have successfully expanded our offer to more than 80 cities across 10 countries worldwide and established ourselves as the European micro-mobility leader,” he begins. “This is owed to our clear and ambitious mission to ‘Change Mobility for Good’ and we are very happy that we can pursue the same goal in the UAE, with our launch in Dubai.”
Offering rides priced at 1dhs per minute or on a subscription basis, TIER’s fleet of e-scooters began offering their services in Dubai’s JLT and Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard in Downtown in October 2020. One of the charms of the set-up is that the fleet stays out almost continually, with even the replacement of batteries being straightforward enough that it can be done in the field. The service is also paying heed to the extra scrutiny on sanitisation in a post-COVID-19 market.
“Especially now during these uncertain times, our service provides a safe, sustainable, and socially distant way to make essential journeys. We are taking extensive precautionary measures, following WHO guidelines as well as the local policies set in place. To increase safety during the Covid-19 pandemic, we have developed and implemented various key measures for our e-scooter service such as the frequent disinfection of all e-scooter ‘touchpoints’ such as the handlebars or breaks.”
Hassan describes TIER as the first and last mile solution to link people with public transport stations, their homes, offices, and retail outlets across the city.
“We are the first provider in the UAE to introduce scooters powered by swappable batteries. This innovative technology is a real ecological game-changer and positions us at the industry forefront in terms of sustainability,” he enthuses. “Empty batteries are swapped on-site from the local team, instead of having to transport the e-scooters to warehouses every day back and forth for charging.
“Something else that makes us stand out from the crowd is our cutting-edge safety e-scooter features, which include the largest front wheel in the market, a wider footplate, dual suspension, a double kickstand, and dual drum brakes for a safe yet comfortable ride.”
As with any city TIER serves, Hassan claims that it is bringing the safest and most advanced e-scooters to the market. He adds that the company is focused on responsible operation and unparalleled standards of sustainability.
“Our e-scooters are a complement to existing non-motorised vehicles. Depending on the situation, the optimal emission-free form of mobility can be chosen at a certain moment and for the respective purposes,” he says. “Our service will help reduce the use of cars in Dubai and offer an environmentally-friendly alternative, whilst enjoying the outdoors and discovering the community.”
It feels like the beginning of a mobility, ride-sharing and ride-hailing boom time in the UAE, led by the RTA’s opening up of its service to Careem’s pioneering work in the country. E-scooters offer a compelling last-mile method to link the sprawling communities and districts of a modern city like Dubai. TIER isn’t the first e-scooter entrant, others like Lime Arnab and Skurrt, are already active but, at the moment, the city’s ambitions are large enough to accommodate them all.
“Our emergence in the UAE market comes within the larger framework of supporting UAE’s 2021 vision to become a world-leading green and sustainable country. TIER was therefore chosen by the Roads & Transport Authority (RTA) as a micro-mobility partner to support Dubai on their way to a greener tomorrow and its Smart City Agenda, whilst enriching the city with an additional transportation service to enhance liveability and convenience,” says Hassan.
He explains that the current approach in Dubai is to have a selected number of e-scooter spots located at strategic locations around Dubai.
“Those spots are non-physical docking-stations and with the help of our technology such as the virtual parking spots, users will be able to park their scooters in an orderly and responsible way within the designated parking zones, which are available and visible in our app,” he says.
“This approach has proven to be successful in our current cities of operation, as it is a non-intrusive alternative to enforce parking while reducing the need for physical infrastructure, which is considered costly and clutters the city in the long-term. Downtown Dubai and Jumeirah Lake Towers (JLT), for example, are both high-dense areas in terms of people living and moving across the city. We are also looking at the possibility of expanding our services to other locations in the future.”
What does the future hold for mobility in the UAE? Read the full interview in the upcoming January issue of Truck & Fleet Middle East magazine.