Veo, one of the shared micromobility firms that secured New York City’s e-scooter permit, is moving into retail. Starting Thursday, the company will be selling its Cosmo X seated, pedal-less scooter across the United States.
Veo will start with a small pilot and limit its first batch to 1,000 scooters in 2023. While e-bikes are selling fast in the U.S., the business case for them can be finicky. Shared micromobility competitor Bird tried, and failed, to sell its own e-bike in the past, and VanMoof just filed for bankruptcy despite the popularity of its bikes.
That’s why Veo wants to take it slowly, gauge customer interest and move forward from there.
“The reason why we felt the timing was right and the vehicle was right was because we already have millions of users on our platform and have a very stable, reliable and popular vehicle type that has served tens of millions of trips already,” Candice Xie, Veo co-founder and CEO, told TechCrunch. “The vehicle we’re launching direct-to-consumer is actually one of our most popular vehicle types in all markets.”
Veo’s shared micromobility service is available in more than 50 markets across the United States, and includes e-bikes, pedal bikes and electric kick scooters.
Xie said customers had already been inquiring about purchasing the Cosmo X, giving her and other company execs the confidence to move forward with this new business unit. And since it’s effectively the same scooter that is on streets today for shared use, Xie thinks Veo will be able to avoid the problems that Bird had with its own retail bike.
“Bird kind of created a low-end copycat version of VanMoof’s product,” said Xie. “But people realized there were qualitative differences.”
VanMoof’s mistakes were in part due to quality issues. VanMoof refused to use off-the-shelf parts, so when parts started breaking down, it was difficult for customers to get repairs and servicing done in a timely manner. That was only exacerbated by VanMoof’s subpar after-sales service and on-the-ground logistics network.
Veo already has service and distribution centers across the country, and plans to expand that network, so its scooters will be able to avoid the logistics and supply chain issues that VanMoof faced, said Xie. The founder is hopeful that Veo’s scooters, which have already proven they can withstand getting beat up on the streets, won’t need nearly as much servicing as VanMoof bikes did.
“We want to run this as a long-term business, and we have patience,” said Xie, noting that Veo might offer other form factors in the future.
To test the business case, Veo will offer a limited quantity of about 1,000 scooters this year. The company wants to take its time to understand which areas internally it would need to invest more into to make a D2C business successful, and which markets have room for growth before putting down heavy capital expenditures. If this year goes well, Veo will be able to sell tens of thousands of scooters next year.
Cosmo X specs and pricing
Veo’s Cosmo X starts at $3,499, putting it firmly on the premium end of the e-scooter spectrum.
Xie said the lead time is three months for the X, but if customers want a cheaper version in a faster time frame, they can purchase the Cosmo S vendor version, which will cost $2,899 and start shipping in September.
For buyers who purchase during the pre-order period, a free detachable basket and helmet is included.
The main difference between the Cosmo X and shared Cosmo S is the ability to customize the former to the owner’s tastes. Users will be able to choose between fun colors for the body like Malibu pink, cosmic blue or Moondust, as well as a range of rim colors. The scooter will also greet its owner by name when it’s turned on, and to be clear, you can choose any name. “Hello Obi-Wan. Are you ready for liftoff?”
Here are some of the Cosmo X’s specs:
- Can reach speeds of 17 miles per hour
- Over 45 miles of range
- A 500W motor — great for hills
- Waterproof swappable battery
- Takes 5-6 hours to charge
- “Mountain bike-inspired suspension” with coil spring front fork
- 18-inch pneumatic tires
- Aluminum alloy frame
- Front and rear mechanical drum brakes in waterproof casing
Finally, at launch, riders will be able to access their personal scooters through a different portal on the same Veo app that exists for shared rides.