Bird’s electric scooters are going international

Electric scooter startup Bird, the one worth $2 billion, is going international. This does not come as a surprise given TechCrunch’s June report that Bird was looking to expand to Europe. Today, Bird is launching a pilot program in Paris to see how the electric scooter service operates in a city with more than two million people.

“Paris is very forward-thinking on solving congestion issues and is one of the cities that’s dealing with the most congestion and pollution,” Bird Head of Europe, the Middle East and Africa Patrick Studener told TechCrunch.

Bird is also gearing up to deploy some scooters in Tel Aviv, where the company says it’s chatting with Tel Aviv University and some municipalities about making something work in those areas, Studener said. In Tel Aviv, Bird will charge 5 shekels to start and then 50 agorot per minute.

As Bird expands to international markets, it’s worth noting that competitor Lime has operated its bikes and scooters outside of the U.S. for quite some time. Last December, Lime brought its bikes to a number of European cities and then, in June, Lime brought its scooters to Paris. Lime also recently raised a $335 million round and teamed up with transportation behemoth Uber.

In Paris, Bird scooters will cost €1 to start followed by €0.15 per minute, which is exactly how much Lime charges. Bird says Paris city officials know the company is planning to deploy about 100 scooters in the city. But this isn’t an official partnership of sorts, Studener said.

“In both cities we’ve started conversations at the national and city levels with officials,” Studener said. “Our approach is to be very collaborative. Almost every city that I’m speaking to, their north star is very much aligned with our north star — and that’s reducing car ownership.”

Since launching last November in Santa Monica, Calif., Bird hasn’t always had the best relationships with city regulators. Upon deploying some scooters in Santa Monica, the city filed criminal complaints against Bird for the company’s failure to obtain a vendor permit. Fast forward to June, and the city implemented a pilot program to impose some regulations on scooter companies like Bird, Lime and others.

Studener and the rest of the European team is based in Amsterdam, though, Bird has not yet deployed its scooters in the Dutch city. As head of EMEA, Studener has his eyes on a number of markets but for this week, he is focused on “going from just being in the U.S. to going internationally. That’s step one.”

In response to a question about Africa, Studener said Bird is still evaluating which African markets would be ripe for Bird scooters.

He said, “I definitely am keen to get that solution there as well because there is especially a very young and innovative population there that are very quick to adopt new solutions.”

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