Uber-rival Bolt looks to invest over €100m in European e-scooter market

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Estonia-based ride-hailing service Bolt said on Thursday it would invest over 100 million euros ($118 million) in 2021 to become the largest e-scooter rental firm in Europe, at a time when cab services have been severely hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Uber Inc rival said it aims to bring 130,000 scooters to more than 100 cities next year, expanding aggressively across the continent.

“There is so much room to grow,” Markus Villig, CEO and co-founder of Bolt, told Reuters in an interview.

Villig said it was logical to expect consumers would switch from taxis and public transport to open-air e-scooters amid the coronavirus crisis, but he was yet to see evidence of this.

Earlier this week Berlin-based e-scooter startup Tier Mobility raised $250 million from investors including Softbank to expand its operations beyond the 80 cities in 10 countries it covers.

Villig said Bolt was benefiting from its established ride-hailing business when competing against e-scooter firms like Tier, as it helps to directly tap its over 30 million users and benefit from cost synergies in marketing and sales.

In May, Bolt raised 100 million euros from investment firm Naya Capital Management in a deal valuing the company at 1.7 billion euros.

Bolt, founded in 2013, has over 30 million users in 35 countries. It has managed to grab a significant market share from Uber, mostly in major African cities and Eastern Europe.