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Zoov, next generation

Technology

Zoov, next generation

BY   Alexandre Gauquelin   

Zoov, the French bike-share start-up that you discovered in this blog a couple of months ago, just unveiled the first version of its charging station, a couple of new features on its e-bike, and pivoting its business model.

A dense event that took place in Vanves, south of Paris, on July 1st, and that worth to be detailed.

The charging station

One specificity of Zoov’s solution is its compactness. As the bikes are locked one to the next through two magnetic anchorings, it only requires one dock per station, instead of one per bike as most of the dock-based solutions. It allows to park up to 15 bikes on a conventional parking space.

At the end of 2019, Zoov released the energy-transfer feature within the e-bikes, allowing to monitor the battery levels of each bike, and adjust it according to the battery state and the position of the bike in the “chain”. The final piece of the solution, the charging dock, have been unveiled during the event.

The station with the 2nd life batteries option

Compact, light, the station comes in three power source options: grid connection, electric socket connection, or battery powered. The limited road works compared to usual dock-based bike-share options is a real plus, given the stricter clients requirements on implementation costs and flexibility (never forget the Vélib’ experience).

The battery-powered version works on 12 used e-bike batteries, a good idea to give it a second life. But with 12 batteries at 80% of the full capacity, it will fully charge less than 10 bikes… might be of limited interest.

An improved e-bike

The ever-evolving e-bike now uses the Field Oriented Control technology in its motor controllers, allowing to lower the energy consumption by 30% thanks to the optimization of the power and consumption of the electric assistance.

Arnaud Le Rodallec, CEO

In addition, the team (specialised in IoT) has implemented some self-diagnosis features, allowing to check and foresee recurrent troubles such as brake lever or motorisation cabling failures. More is under development, as the range of possibilities is wide thanks to different on-board sensors (gyroscope, accelerometer…)

Scale-up thanks to partnerships

Zoov defines itself as a product-focused company. I can only agree that they are developing a well-designed product, paying attention to every detail. On the commercial side, with 2 medium-size services in Paris-Saclay (450 e-bikes) and Bordeaux (450 e-bikes), there is still a lot to achieve.

Founders Arnaud Le Rodallec, Amira Haberah and Eric Carreel

To reach the next level, Zoov has decided to partner with – yet unknown – operator(s). A way to address more demands and markets, and to remain focus on their core business: the solution. My bet is that is will become the e-bike solution for some e-scooter company, allowing to provide a multimodal solution with a high-quality e-bike. Wait and see!

The potential of this kind of compact stations, as for low-tech bike-racks, is huge, as the industry moves towards free-floating/dock-based hybrid solutions. A low density of charging hubs answers the need for vehicles concentration to ease the maintenance and balancing and keep orderly streets, and the need to improve unit economics with optimised charging solutions. Just look at the momentum behind Swiftmile or Charge. Zoov has a unique solution for bikes.

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