US-based startup Bird Rides is partnering with Tokyo-based BRJ to bring e-scooters to Japan. 

Santa Monica-based startup Bird Rides will be entering the Japanese smart transportation market as the country begins to open mobility device restrictions. By introducing an electric scooter (e-scooter) sharing programme, similar models being widely successful and adopted in North America.

Bird Rides will be partnering with Tokyo-based BRJ Co., Ltd. to bring e-scooter sharing to the country, programmes set to target Japanese suburbs with their entry. The partnership aims to kick off with 400 e-scooters in greater Tokyo and other major cities.

Bird Rides targets making cities smarter and more liveable through reduced car and vehicular transport, traffic, and carbon footprint. Through e-scooters, cities can integrate smart transportation to optimise the lives of their citizens as well as provide a sustainable mobility solution. It is the company’s mission to create a global community of improved mobility, embrace diversity, drive impact, and bring new ideas and innovations to the smart mobility industry.

The US-based company is predicting a profit of US$45.3 million (JP¥5 billion) a year by fiscal 2024, as long as Japan’s reduced mobility restrictions follow current projections. In April, Japan’s National Police Agency said they will allow people to operate electric kick scooters without a license. Bird Rides’ e-scooters are fully equipped with tracking technology including SIM cards and GPS devices which allow for remote deactivation in the instance of restriction infringements or vehicles being driven outside of permitted areas.

Helmet-optional test runs are set to begin in autumn this year, and will be conducted in Japanese suburbs with populations between 200,000 and 300,000 people, costing JP¥10 (US9¢) per minute.

A recent market research report states that the e-scooter market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 29.4% from 2021 to 2028, and is predicted to reach US$644.5 billion by 2028.

Bird Rides has expanded their business to over 200 cities around the world, totalling to around 70,000 vehicles in use worldwide. In May 2021 the company announced they would list on the New York Stock Exchange through a SPAC deal.

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