E-scooters ride into COVID-19 Aussie job cuts
E-Scooter companies are in danger of becoming the latest victims of the coronavirus pandemic after Beam confirmed it had laid off many of its Australian workers.
The redundancies, in addition to pay-cuts for its Singapore executives, come after several e-scooter companies removed their vehicles from city streets in response to social distancing restrictions and significantly less foot traffic.
But the once-promising micromobility companies insist they'll be back on the streets when rules are loosened, if their finances allow.
Singapore-based Beam, which recently launched services in Bunbury, Western Australia, and had serviced Adelaide, confirmed the organisation laid off members of its Australian team as part of a cost-cutting measure to stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Beam corporate affairs vice-president Chris Hilton would not confirm how many staff members had been made redundant but told News Corp it was part of a wider "contraction" for the business.
"It was a really difficult choice for us to make," he said. "Executives across the entire organisation have taken pay-cuts and some will take zero pay for the next six months.
"We'll have to tighten our belts and move forward in a contracted fashion."
Mr Hilton said the cutbacks would not immediately affect its Australian operations as it had pulled scooters from the streets, and it would not stop "rolling out into other areas of Australia" in future.
"Coming out of this COVID-19 situation, there will be an opportunity for people to choose transportation options that are different to what they were used to," he said.
Neuron Mobility, which rents out orange electric scooters in two states, withdrew its e-scooters from Adelaide but allowed them to remain on Brisbane city streets during the pandemic.
It also offered health workers free monthly passes to use the vehicles during the crisis.
Lime Asia Pacific government relations head Mitchell Price said the company had opted to shelve its scooters for safety reasons, but said it was a tough decision and one from which some scooter companies could struggle to recover.
Firms "left standing" after the pandemic, he said, could benefit from a nation of people keen to get outside.
"Micromobility will play a key role, post-COVID," he said.
The electric scooter market was estimated to be worth more than $29 billion last year, according to Grand View Research, with rideshare scooters offered in 90 cities worldwide.
Originally published as E-scooters ride into COVID-19 Aussie job cuts