German e-scooter startups band together over proposed restrictions

Up until now, there has not been a consensus in the e-scooter industry; everyone is fighting for themselves in a competitive market.

German e-scooter startups band together over proposed restrictions
A man with an e-scooter in Stuttgart in November 2019. Photo: DPA

But now the six largest sharing providers, Lime, Voi, Tier, Jump, Bird and Circ, see their existence threatened by a new proposal and have formed an unprecedented alliance, according to a report in Germany's Business Insider.

READ ALSO: What you think of the rise of electric scooters in Germany

For the first time, Germany is demanding a permit requirement for e-scooters which could significantly restrict their usage, according to the report. The move, part of a package to road traffic regulations, was to be voted on Friday.

How will a permit change the industry?

This would mean in practice that e-scooter startups would have to get a permit from German municipalities before their vehicles – which were officially legalized in Germany in June 2019 – are allowed to hit the streets.

Cities could also attach certain conditions to this permit, such as fleet ceilings, quotas and fees.

Up until now, being able able to park the e-scooters freely is part of the business model of the startups.

Via app, customers can rent and park the mini-motorized vehicles anywhere in the catchment area – the model is called “free-floating” in the jargon of the industry, and is intended to offer flexibility to park the vehicles in public spaces, even in front of the rider's front door.

An e-scooter rider in Cologne. Photo: DPA

READ ALSO: What happens to electric scooters in the colder months?

From the point of view of some cities, including Berlin, free floating causes parking chaos.

As the proposed amendment reads: “The commercial use of, in particular, pedestrian areas by commercial providers of rental electric scooters is increasingly causing traffic problems for other road users in cities and municipalities, in particular for pedestrians and persons with reduced mobility.”

Existence threatened

In a joint position paper, the six e-scooter companies called on the representatives of Germany's Federal Council not to approve the amendment.

“The current proposal allows cities and municipalities to ban e-scooters or rental bikes completely or to impose strict conditions on them,” it read. “Such strict regulation means the end of micro-mobility as an alternative to motorized individual transport.”

They stated that the bureaucratic burden would make the free-floating model so unattractive that only a station-based model – or picking and dropping off e-bikes at a particular station – would be considered by companies. But this in turn would be poorly accepted by the users.

In order to solve the parking chaos on the sidewalks, they see cities themselves as primarily responsible.

“In our view, the basic problem lies in the lack of infrastructure investments,” said Jashar Seyfi, Lime's German head, to Business Insider.

“Car parking spaces would have to be converted into parking spaces for e-scooters – but of course that doesn't make you popular as a politician in Germany as a car nation.”

‘Environmental friendly mobility’

According to Germany's Bundesrat, the amendment of the road traffic regulations serves to “promote sustainable and environmentally friendly mobility”. 

It also would increase the fines for parking and illegal use of sidewalks, ranging from the current  €25 today to up to €100. In addition, new traffic signs with e-scooter symbols are to be introduced.

In addition to e-scooters, greater safety for cyclists and better conditions for car sharing services are also an issue. The Federal Council was to vote on the changes on Friday.

READ ALSO: Fines and speed limits: Germany votes on new traffic rules

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Sweden’s SSAB to build €4.5bn green steel plant in Luleå 

The Swedish steel giant SSAB has announced plans to build a new steel plant in Luleå for 52 billion kronor (€4.5 billion), with the new plant expected to produce 2.5 million tons of steel a year from 2028.

Sweden's SSAB to build €4.5bn green steel plant in Luleå 

“The transformation of Luleå is a major step on our journey to fossil-free steel production,” the company’s chief executive, Martin Lindqvist, said in a press release. “We will remove seven percent of Sweden’s carbon dioxide emissions, strengthen our competitiveness and secure jobs with the most cost-effective and sustainable sheet metal production in Europe.”

The new mini-mill, which is expected to start production at the end of 2028 and to hit full capacity in 2029, will include two electric arc furnaces, advanced secondary metallurgy, a direct strip rolling mill to produce SSABs specialty products, and a cold rolling complex to develop premium products for the transport industry.

It will be fed partly from hydrogen reduced iron ore produced at the HYBRIT joint venture in Gälliväre and partly with scrap steel. The company hopes to receive its environemntal permits by the end of 2024.


The announcement comes just one week after SSAB revealed that it was seeking $500m in funding from the US government to develop a second HYBRIT manufacturing facility, using green hydrogen instead of fossil fuels to produce direct reduced iron and steel.

The company said it also hoped to expand capacity at SSAB’s steel mill in Montpelier, Iowa. 

The two new investment announcements strengthen the company’s claim to be the global pioneer in fossil-free steel.

It produced the world’s first sponge iron made with hydrogen instead of coke at its Hybrit pilot plant in Luleå in 2021. Gälliväre was chosen that same year as the site for the world’s first industrial scale plant using the technology. 

In 2023, SSAB announced it would transform its steel mill in Oxelösund to fossil-free production.

The company’s Raahe mill in Finland, which currently has new most advanced equipment, will be the last of the company’s big plants to shift away from blast furnaces. 

The steel industry currently produces 7 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions, and shifting to hydrogen reduced steel and closing blast furnaces will reduce Sweden’s carbon emissions by 10 per cent and Finland’s by 7 per cent.