Bosch's electric-moped startup Coup calls it quits

Jill Petzinger
Jill Petzinger, Germany Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
A man rides a rented Coup electric sharing scooter in Berlin, Germany. Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Bosch’s electric moped subsidiary Coup announced on Monday that it was shutting down all its operations, starting in Berlin, with Paris and Madrid to follow by the end of the year. The startup is just three years old.

A Bosch spokesperson said that the decision to close down Coup was an economic one, as “the market is extremely competitive.” Bosch also cited the high costs involved in operating the moped-sharing scheme.

Unlike shared cars, bikes and scooters, electric mopeds come with seasonal challenges, needing to be warehoused during the winter months, when it is simply too cold or dangerous to use them.

“We have decided that we will not strategically pursue the mobility services business for end customers,” a Bosch spokeswoman told Berliner Morgenpost newspaper, adding that Bosch still intends to supply mobility solutions to providers like Uber or Lyft. "But we have learned that we do not necessarily have to be a mobility service provider ourselves," she said.

Bosch will also shut down US car-sharing startup SPLT, which it acquired in December 2017. The decision to shutter SPLT is part of the company’s strategic withdrawal from being a mobility service provider for end-customers, a Bosch spokesperson confirmed to Yahoo Finance UK.

Coup announced the closure in an email to customers on Monday evening, writing that “we will discontinue our service in Berlin and Tübingen by the middle of December. It is also planned to close the Coup locations in Paris and Madrid.”

The company has some 5,000 of the Taiwanese Gogoro mopeds on the streets, the bulk of them in Paris, and employs 120 people in Berlin, Paris and Madrid across customer service, battery replacement, and other roles. It said in a press release that these employees will be “given assistance in their search for alternative employment” or if that is not possible, will receive severance packages.

The company plans to store the mopeds in warehouses until it decides what to do with them.

German e-scooter startup Tier (the CEO of Tier was one of the founders of Coup too) recently announced it would sell off its old e-scooters to individuals, especially in rural areas, rather than destroy them. Such an option is unlikely to work for Coup: it tweeted (in German) that: “We can not sell Coup e-scooters to end users in Europe because there is no charging infrastructure such as in Taiwan.”

READ MORE: Tier becomes first e-scooter company to use swappable batteries

Seated electric mopeds are a burgeoning part of the shared mobility landscape, but they need to compete with e-bikes, e-scooters, and even shared cars.