Will you like to charge your electric bicycle or e-scooter with solar power free of charge? With hundreds of new charging stations in the US and Europe, the Swiftmile start-up is making it possible.
But the idea of these free charging stations did not come about overnight.
After winning a free Pedego e-bike in a raffle some years ago, Swiftmile founder Colin Roche first got into electric bikes.
After a knee injury had sidelined him years earlier, the new e-bike helped Roche return to cycling, as he explained to the Bicycle Retailer:
“I considered myself a cyclist up until I was about 35, which is when I developed severe arthritis in my knee due to years of playing soccer. That is why this was such a fortuitous event for me; it literally got me back into biking with the aid of a pedal-assist bike and opened my eyes to what a game-changer they can be to getting back into biking.”
He started thinking about charging needs and the shortage of public charging facilities for e-bikes after discovering the joys of e-biking. That pushed Roche down a rabbit hole that eventually culminated in Swiftmile being developed by him.
Swiftmile installs charging stations with solar power that riders can use to charge their electric bicycles and scooters for free. In the US, the charging stations are also constructed locally.
To make the idea work, the startup uses a few different business models.
Public charging stations are available to all users, free of charge, with digital advertising billboards on the station receiving revenue from the organization. Cities can get them built for free and only need to have access to the infrastructure; the rest is done by Swiftmile.
US cities currently operating Swiftmile’s charging stations include Austin, Phoenix, San Francisco, Tampa, and Washington D.C.
E-bike or scooter companies may also buy charging stations, and then those stations can only charge the vehicle models of that company.
The goal was to make a win-win, sustainable fee, as Roche explained:
“Our program with cities does not require them to pay anything. We just need access to a power source and a good location for us to place the system with our digital screen. That was a key piece to making this a win, win, win for everyone. The cities get it for free, the ads pay for the system, and riders get to use it for free.”
Swiftmile received US$ 5 M from investors in July, which added to the previous US$ 6 M in funding from the venture.
The funding will help the business expand, adding to the 200 charging stations the Swiftmile already operates.
As Roche was expanding:
“It’s really to execute on our pipeline and scale our mobility hubs around the world. We are at the beginning stages of a revolution in e-bikes, scooters, trikes, etc. We hope to become the gas station of the future to help build an ecosystem for these to flourish.”
What are you thinking? Will Swiftmile become the model gas station for charging e-bikes and e-scooters? Will delivery riders and commuters stop off on their way for a fast charge? In the comment section below, let us know your thoughts!