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Voi, the European e-scooter rentals startup, 'pauses' operations in several countries

Steve O'Hear

Following similar moves by Lime, Bird, Tier and others, Voi Technology, the European e-scooter rentals and so-called micro-mobility startup, says it has "paused" operations in several countries due to the Coronvirus pandemic. This sees the company suspend operations in all but nine key cities.

In a short statement issued to media on Friday, Voi said it had regrettably been "forced" to pause operations in the majority of cities it operates in, with only a handful of its largest cities being serviced.

The cities where Voi is continuing to operate in are: Copenhagen, Helsinki, Gothenburg, Stockholm and Oslo in the Nordics, and Berlin, Hamburg, Nuremberg and Munich in Germany.

More broadly, the Coronavirus outbreak is a major blow to e-scooter companies as cities around the world are restricting movement and social distancing and isolation is, to varying degrees, being practiced. This is seeing many companies putting in place work-from-home policies and negating the need for daily commutes, where e-scooters are often favoured. The world economy is also taking a hit and therefore recreational spending and travel is on an escalating downwards trend too.

More broadly, the business plans of e-scooter rental startups factor in seasonal demand and sources told me a few months ago that runway across the industry was based on deep enough pockets and operational smarts to get through Winter and be in a strong position to capitalise on peak Spring and Summer season demand. Coronavirus inevitably means "Winter" could now last for a very long time indeed.

The rest of the statement from Voi -- which raised $85 million in Series B funding in November -- follows below:

In the cities we keep open we will drastically reduce our fleet size but will continue to serve our communities and wherever possible we will keep capacity at important hubs, like major transport interchanges and hospitals.

We have been forced to make this hard decision as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. People are working from home and no longer visiting restaurants, pubs, theatres and friends and consequently have stopped using Voi e-scooters to get around.

We plan to kick start our operations again when the situation allows.