The corona pandemic is likely to change people’s mobility behavior over time.
The Berlin company Unu offers electric scooters and hopes to benefit from a change.
Unu also wants to contribute to the turnaround in traffic, but complains of unfair competition.
The corona pandemic has paralyzed public life and thus traffic in Germany for weeks. Suddenly trains and streets were almost empty. Many restrictions have already been relaxed. But will people now move differently than before?
The Berlin-based electric scooter manufacturer Unu hopes to benefit from a change. “We assume that there will be shifting effects in urban mobility, from public transport and shared mobility to individual transport,” says Felix Jakobsen, responsible for mobility services at the company, in an interview with NewsABC.net. “We have already noticed that there is increasing interest in us.”
Competitor to the car: Unu wants to contribute to the traffic turnaround
Unu was founded in 2013 with the aim of being part of the transport turnaround towards more sustainability. An aspect that is becoming increasingly important, especially among younger users, says co-founder Pascal Blum. Over half of the customers of the e-scooter manufacturer are under 35 years old.
The company sees the scooter as a real competitor to the car – in contrast to many other new offers: “An e-scooter is not an alternative to the car, or only in very rare cases.” According to Unu, according to surveys by Unu, its customers would travel ten times the car now do six with the scooter instead.
E-scooters have long conquered the streets in major Chinese cities
Unlike the Vespa country Italy or also Spain and France, the Germans are actually more of a scooter muffle. Electric scooters have long since conquered the streets in Chinese cities such as Shanghai. They are a quiet and inexpensive means of transportation, are easier to cover longer distances than a bicycle, are more spontaneous and individual than public transport, are easier to get through traffic jams and require less parking space than a car.
Unu hopes to be able to continue to score with these advantages among German customers. “80 percent of our customers in Germany are first-time customers of scooters,” says Blum. The founder came up with the idea for the company even while in China. Unu has its e-scooters produced there, even if the corona virus clearly affects the supply chains. But China is the world’s largest market for electric scooters with more than 90 percent. “That is why all of the suppliers are located in China, even Bosch, who produce our motors and controllers,” says Blum.
Unu has already been profitable in Germany. This is no longer the case at the moment, also because “massive” investments were made in the successor to the company’s first e-scooter, of which more than 12,000 were sold. The design and equipment of the new model have been revised according to customer requirements. Among other things, there is now more space on and under the seat, and the battery has also been slightly adjusted.
Shortly before the limitations of the corona pandemic began, NewsABC.net visited Unu, whose name is derived from the Esperanto word for one. Most of the employees now work in the home office. The company has registered short-time work. Jakobsen hopes that production in China will stabilize again soon and the new e-scooters can be delivered to Europe: “We are close to normal.”
A scooter from Unu is available in the online shop from 2,799 euros. It can be driven with a normal car license and can also carry two people. The range is 50 kilometers, but can be doubled with an additional battery. So far, customers have been able to charge the battery for their e-scooter at home. Blum believes the range to include battery subscriptions that outsource charging and would make the scooters cheaper without the expensive rechargeable battery is a “chicken and egg problem”: It does take a lot of stations to be attractive to customers such stations are expensive. Only when there is a sufficiently large number of scooter drivers does it make sense for unu to follow suit. That is why the model of the Taiwanese company Gogoro has not yet managed to expand internationally even after several years and despite high funding. The Israeli company Better Place also failed with a similar model for electric cars.
Unu wants to enter the sharing market – but the corona crisis has hit it hard
It wasn’t until the beginning of the year that Unu made its plans public to enter the sharing market. For this, the manufacturer wants to work with local partners. Unu does not yet want to reveal which partners they should be and when they should start. Public transport would at least be an obvious partner, Unu claims that it is already in contact with various providers.
The start was initially planned for Rotterdam, also three to
four other partners in different cities would be considered, including
Berlin. But the shared mobility industry is also hard hit by the corona crisis
hit, which is why the market is currently very cautious, says Jakobsen. Before the
Unu had targeted a share of sales of around 40 percent in the crisis with shared mobility.
Rental prices could vary between five to five, according to Jakobsen estimates
move six euros per half hour.
Overall, the industry is considered difficult. Jakobsen sees the withdrawal of providers like Coup only as “slight corrections” in the shared mobility market. He refers to the number of around 43 million private cars that are currently registered in Germany. “If we simply replace the motor with an electric motor, we have not achieved anything in terms of the traffic turnaround,” says Jakobsen. “Other mobility services and offers have to be established. And we are very sure that this will also happen. ”Sooner or later there will be a“ dam break ”, one is convinced at Unu.
What have other shared mobility providers done wrong so far?
At Unu, you want to learn from your competitors’ mistakes. “Unfortunately, Coup was unplugged because they had operational inefficiencies and a strong competitive situation in Berlin, Paris and Madrid,” says Blum, who took over the coup scooters from the previous e-scooter rental company Tier as “a smart move from Animal to Diversify ”. “Circ also threw in the towel in the e-scooter market. It will go on like this, ”says the founder. “It is not sustainable that everyone wants to win in all cities. We also believe that local companies tend to establish themselves in the end. It goes hand in hand with a city’s understanding: what is the perfect mobility solution, what is the right pricing? ”
Previous providers were under pressure to quickly
to grow. “That means expansion, more vehicles, more cities, more customers and
more rides. But that also means more complexity, ”says Jakobsen. “If
I don’t take the time at the beginning, really efficient operational processes
build up, but just grow very quickly, then I suddenly have one
very large apparatus where it will be difficult to change it again. ”
He considers this to be normal processes in the development of a new sector: “We set a standard as if such a topic had to be profitable in three or five years. The change in our mobility behavior is probably one of the strongest changes we have. Something like that takes time. “
Traffic turnaround: New mobility service providers are often at a disadvantage against the car industry
In the competition with cars and public transport, new mobility service providers often feel like an overlooked stepchild on the market. The most recent example is the car purchase premium, which is now being demanded by the auto industry and some state governments in the crisis. “We know that the vehicle class we offer often falls through the cracks. But we also know that an electric scooter at 45 km / h can certainly replace some urban car trips, ”says Jakobsen.
He himself advocates more political support for companies like Unu to create fairer competition. Unu founder Blum, on the other hand, wants fewer privileges for motorists: “In other cities it is like this: parking spaces in Amsterdam cost 500 euros a month, in London 5,000 euros in some cases. This is public space that the city simply gives away to car owners, but not to others. ”
“It’s still incredibly attractive in Germany,
owning a private car, ”adds Jakobsen. “Be it parking,
Tax breaks, commuter allowance, company car privilege, … I think it’s
in almost no country so pleasant to drive an upper mid-range car. ”In the meantime
Although there is more talk about the turnaround in traffic, this is only the first
Step. “A lot has been managed in recent years, but not a new one
Politics created, ”says Blum.
But the scarce space for non-drivers on the streets suddenly became an issue during the Corona period. In Berlin, for example, pop-up bike paths were even pounded out of the ground. Jakobsen therefore believes that the crisis can also lead to rethinking: “We believe that incisive experiences, over which one has no influence, can contribute to social changes.”
Plague, HIV, Ebola: 11 pandemics that have changed human history
Plague, HIV, Ebola: 11 pandemics that have changed human history
Justinian Plague (541-750)
The rule of Justinian I, the emperor of the Byzantine Empire in the 6th century, was affected by the outbreak of bubonic plague. The pandemic, now known as the Justinian plague, is said to have killed between 30 and 50 million people, writes National Geographic. That corresponds to about half of the world’s population at that time.
The Justinian plague has definitely happened. However, researchers have not yet agreed on how far-reaching the consequences of the plague were, according to “Smithsonian Magazine”.
Many experts assume that the pandemic has largely brought trade to a standstill. As a result, the Byzantine Empire was weakened, allowing other civilizations to retake areas in the Middle East, North Africa, and parts of Asia. Emperor Justinian was just about to unite the eastern and western halves of the Roman Empire when the pandemic struck. The outbreak is therefore understood by some as a crucial point for the end of this era.
It remains to be seen whether these events are actually attributable to the pandemic. However, it is clear that the Roman Empire was never reunited and the Middle Ages began.
Bettmann / Getty Images
The Black Death (1347-1351)
Between 1347 and 1351, bubonic plague spread across Europe and killed around 25 million people. It took more than 200 years for the European population to return to the pre-1347 level. In Asia, especially in China, where the plague probably originated, the death toll is likely to be even higher.
Another episode of the pandemic, which later became known as the Black Death, was the beginning of the decline in serfdom, according to a Khan Academy article. Since so many people had died, the living standards of the survivors rose. Workers had more employment opportunities and social mobility increased. At the same time there was a brief standstill in warfare.
From a cultural point of view, the catastrophe led to an increase in mysticism, as suffering challenged the religious dominance of the Roman Catholic Church. Reactions to the plague included an increase in fanaticism and the “scapegoat narrative”. This led to increased prejudice and pogroms against minorities such as Jews and Roma.
Smallpox (15th-17th centuries)
The Europeans brought a number of new diseases with them when they first arrived on the American continents in 1492. One of these was smallpox, a contagious disease that kills about 30 percent of those infected, according to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Between the 15th and 17th centuries, about 20 million people died of smallpox on the American continent. That corresponds to almost 90 percent of the population at that time. The pandemic helped Europeans colonize and develop the newly conquered territories and changed the history of America, its European conquerors and the global economy forever.
The exploitation of the New World mineral resources in the form of silver and gold from Latin America, for example, led to massive inflation in the distant Spanish Empire. The economist John Maynard Keynes wrote in 1930 that this “price revolution” was a crucial turning point in the emergence of modern capitalism.
Bettmann / Getty Images
The first cholera pandemic started in Jessore, India, and spread across most of the region and then to neighboring areas. It was the first of seven major cholera pandemics that killed millions of people.
A British doctor named John Snow found out how to prevent the spread of the disease. In 1854 he was able to contain the outbreak by tracing the source of the disease to a specific water pump in the Soho district of London.
The World Health Organization has called cholera “the forgotten pandemic”. The seventh outbreak that started in 1961 continues to this day. According to the WHO, cholera infects 1.3 to four million people each year, with the number of annual deaths ranging from 21,000 to 143,000.
Cholera is caused by the ingestion of food or water contaminated with bacteria. It therefore rages primarily in countries that show extreme differences in prosperity and whose level of development is limited. Cholera continues to change the world by attacking those areas that are least able to defend themselves. Rich countries no longer have to worry about cholera.
The Spanish flu (1918-1919)
The Spanish flu was an outbreak of the H1N1 virus, which infected around 500 million people in the early 21st century. At that time, this corresponded to a third of the world’s population. The pandemic was responsible for the deaths of over 50 million people worldwide, the CDC website said.
At the time of the outbreak, World War I came to an end and health authorities had little or no official protocol for dealing with virus pandemics, which added to the great impact of the pandemic.
In the years after the flu, it was possible to understand how the pandemic started and how it could have been prevented. The research has helped improve healthcare and helped mitigate the effects of similar flu-like virus outbreaks.
Underwood Archives / Getty
Hong Kong flu or H3N2 (1968-1970)
Fifty years after the Spanish flu, another flu virus spread across the world: H3N2. It has been estimated that there have been approximately one million deaths worldwide, including approximately 100,000 in the United States.
The 1968 pandemic was the third outbreak of influenza in the 20th century, the other two were the Spanish flu in 1918 and the Asian flu in 1957. The virus responsible for the Asian flu is believed to have developed and developed as Hong Kong ten years later Flu showed up again. This led to the H3N2 pandemic.
Although H3N2 was not as deadly as the H1N1 virus from the Spanish flu in 1918, H3N2 was extraordinarily contagious: 500,000 people became infected within two weeks after the first reported case in Hong Kong, according to an article by the “Encyclopaedia Britannica” . The pandemic helped to understand the crucial role of vaccination in preventing future outbreaks.
HIV / AIDS (1981-present)
The first documented cases of HIV / AIDS were reported in 1981. But the virus still infects and kills people today. Since 1981, 75 million people have been infected with the HI virus. Around 32 million have died from the effects of the virus, AIDS.
HIV is a sexually transmitted virus. So far, only a few cases have been cured, reports the Deutsche Aids-Hilfe on its website. However, HIV can now be treated with medication so that infected people can live a long life.
Basketball superstar Magic Johnson made history when he left the NBA in 1991 and made his HIV diagnosis public. Johnson remains a successful businessman and is committed to educating people about HIV and AIDS.
The impact of the HIV / AIDS crisis on the global economy is still under investigation. Research often focuses on Africa, the continent with the largest proportion of HIV / AIDS cases.
In the 1980s and 1990s, the global LGBTQI community received a lot of attention due to the strong impact of HIV / AIDS on its members. One of the first mainstream films to deal with HIV / AIDS and homophobia was the 1993 Philadelphia film, which won an Oscar.
SARS, short for severe acute respiratory syndrome, is a disease caused by one of the seven coronaviruses that can infect humans.
In 2003, an outbreak originating in the Guangdong province of China became a global pandemic. Within a very short time, the disease spread to a total of 26 countries. Just over 8,000 people were infected – 774 of them died as a result, the CDC said.
The impact of the 2003 SARS pandemic was limited as authorities around the world responded by quarantining the affected areas and isolating infected people. Scientists who study the new 2019 corona virus have found that its genetic makeup is 86.9 percent identical to the SARS virus, the Stat website says. The comparison serves to assess whether governments can successfully repeat one of the 2003 containment procedures.
The outbreak of SARS has raised awareness of preventing the transmission of viral diseases. This applies in particular to Hong Kong, where public facilities have since been cleaned regularly and face masks have become part of everyday life.
Greg Baker / AP
Swine flu or H1N1 (2009-2010)
In 2009, a new form of the influenza virus appeared that infected approximately 60.8 million people in the United States, with the number of deaths worldwide ranging from 151,700 to 575,400. Swine flu was relatively mild in Germany, but a few thousand people were also infected here, according to the website of the health insurance company headquarters.
The name of the so-called swine flu is misleading because the virus is transmitted from person to person, but can also occur in birds and pigs.
It differs from typical flu outbreaks in that 80 percent of virus-related deaths occurred in people under 65 years of age. Typically, 70 to 90 percent of flu-related deaths occur in people over 65, the CDC said.
H1N1 has shown how quickly a virus can spread in the 21st century. Swine flu has made it clear that additional preparations are required so that the global community can react more quickly in the future. Swine flu has also shown that countries with advanced health systems are also susceptible to the rapid spread of flu-like viruses.
REUTERS / Stringer
The Ebola virus, named after a river near the first outbreak, was limited in range compared to most modern pandemics, but incredibly deadly.
The outbreak started in 2014 in a small village in Guinea. A handful of neighboring countries in West Africa were also affected in a very short time. The virus killed 11,325 of the 28,600 people infected, with most cases occurring in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the CDC said.
Ebola is estimated to cost a total of $ 4.3 billion, with overseas investment declining dramatically in the three countries listed above.
Similar to the cholera pandemic, Ebola initially affected those countries that could hardly defend themselves against the disease due to a lack of financial and medical resources.
Jerome Delay / AP Photo