Stuttgart – Maintaining a fleet of electric scooters without fixed charging stations costs a lot of money: employees regularly have to pick up the batteries or the entire vehicle anywhere in the city, charge them and then distribute them again. As a result, the return on investment falls and the area in which the fleet vehicles are available remains limited for economic reasons.
Mat Schubert and Marc Zimmermann want to tackle this problem. In April 2020, in the midst of the corona pandemic, the two former Bosch employees founded the start-up Leon Mobility based in Leonberg. Their solution is a product called Nubsee: a small charging station that can charge electric vehicles with a voltage of twelve to 48 volts – such as e-bikes, electric scooters and large electric scooters.
Initially, only Stella scooters can be charged
“This type of mobility should also come to cities and areas where sharing models are otherwise not worthwhile,” says Marc Zimmermann from Leon Mobility. “What is new about Nubsee is that the charging boxes create a network that can be used to charge all types of small electric vehicles.” The first pilot phase for the Nubsee stations is now starting in Stuttgart.
In cooperation with Stadtwerke Stuttgart, Leon Mobility has already set up five charging boxes where 18 specially converted electric Stella scooters from the Stadtwerke can be charged with green electricity. It is important to note that only these Stella scooters can initially be charged here. Although the boxes could charge a whole range of vehicles, this would require minor modifications, including a charging cable, explains Zimmermann.
Stadtwerke Stuttgart is responding to a demand from Stella users. In a user survey, these had indicated that they wanted to participate in the charging of the Stellas in the future, says Stadtwerke Managing Director Olaf Kieser. “We are now testing this for six months with the aim of increasing the availability of e-scooters and being able to offer Stella in peripheral areas in the long term.”
The charging boxes are equipped with sensors
For Zimmermann and Schubert, the business model initially consists of the Nubsee charging boxes showing advertising on a display. The stations also collect environmental data: sensors measure noise, temperature, fine dust and nitrogen oxide pollution. In addition, information should also be shown on the display. “The cities can use the displays to inform their citizens in real time, even away from the Internet,” says Zimmermann.
In a later step, the start-up founders also want to earn money with this data. “The first thing is to attract investors and quickly expand the network of Nubsees,” emphasizes Zimmermann. We are also in talks with other cities.
The two of them are familiar with mobility and the fleet business from their previous job: Mat Schubert was managing director of the Bosch subsidiary Coup, which, among other things, pursued a similar business with e-scooters in Berlin as Stella in Stuttgart. In 2019, Coup ceased operations: the costs were too high. Zimmermann had previously developed an electric designer scooter, but it had not gone into production.
Free minutes for loading
The six months are also a learning phase for Stadtwerke Stuttgart. “We test how the charging boxes work technically and how the users accept them,” explains a spokeswoman. Then decide what the next steps are. After all, users are used to being able to park their scooters anywhere in the business area.
Incidentally, this is of course still possible, emphasize the municipal utilities. However, if you connect a Stella scooter to a Nubsee box, you will receive 15 free Stella minutes as an incentive. An empty battery is then full again in around two hours – and the municipal utilities have saved money because no employee has to go to the scooter to use a fully charged battery.