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Ahead of this weekend’s British Grand Prix, a sleek new machine with a Formula One pedigree was launched today on two wheels.
The bo M is a British-designed e-scooter that aims to get people out of their cars and tackles a key safety concern of stability. It claims a world first in introducing active riding stabilisation, with its Safesteer technology smoothing the steering over bumps, dips and potholes, meaning “the single greatest concern of new and experienced e-scooter riders is eliminated”.
Safety fears have been holding back legal approval of non-rental e-scooters on UK roads, but bo is including features and timing its launch so the M can hopefully take straight to the streets. As well as Safesteer, its speed is being throttled to 15.5mph and it has high visibility, with a headlight and 360-degree “Light Halo” on the front and wide-angle light with brake flashing to the rear. It will ship next Spring when UK laws allowing e-scooters on streets may have come into force.
The founders, CEO Oscar Morgan and CTO Harry Wills, have infused their learning and experience from the automotive industry into the M. Morgan worked in Williams F1 Advanced Engineering, which explored scooters and made the hub motor for the Brompton folding electric bike. Wills worked for Jaguar Land Rover in design research.
“Normally with scooters, they’re made from the bottom up, so they start with something like a children’s micro scooter, and they strap an electric motor to it,” Morgan told me. “What we’ve done is look at the way that we construct a car and how to shrink it down so that it fits a single rider.”
This has led to the M’s stylish unbroken Monocurve aluminium chassis, which means you can’t fold it, but there is added reliability, strength and stability — enough to hang a shopping bag on two load hooks on the steering column. Comfort is improved by wide tubeless pneumatic tyres and an “Airdeck” panel to stand on that is made from the same material found in high-performance running shoes.
There is a 50km range and fully charging the battery in three hours costs around 7p. The M can be pre-ordered now and will go on sale for £1,995, with a subscription option of £69 a month.
While the US and France are obvious markets, Morgan says that he expects legalisation will make the UK the biggest in Europe. “There are already a million privately owned e-scooters in the UK and Bristol is the most profitable centre for rental companies in the whole of Europe.”
“The uptake has been extraordinary. So, if you look over a three-year window, it’s the UK that will lead.”
The Internet of (Five) Things
1. Chinese students lured into state espionage
Chinese university students have been unwittingly lured to work at a secretive tech company that masked the true nature of their jobs: researching western targets for spying and translating hacked documents as part of Beijing’s industrial-scale intelligence regime. The FT contacted 140 potential translators who responded to job ads placed by Hianan Xiandun, a company alleged to be a cover for the Chinese hacking group APT40.
2. SenseTime plunges as lock-up ends
Shares in China’s most valuable artificial intelligence company SenseTime plunged more than 50 per cent in Hong Kong as its lock-up period expired and some pre-IPO investors withdrew their profits. The Chinese government uses SenseTime’s facial recognition software in everything from smartphones to security cameras. John Thornhill’s column this week looks at the ethics of surveillance, with China the biggest supplier of such technology.
3. Spacs’ biggest losers
UK companies that went public via a Spac listing in the past two years have been crushed by the market sell-off, losing on average 61 per cent of their value as investors dump the once-hot start-ups. Electric vehicle company Arrival has suffered most, losing 93 per cent of its value, while online used car retailer Cazoo’s shares have plunged 91 per cent.
4. BT workers may return to strikes
Staff at the UK’s largest telecoms group BT voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action on Thursday for the first time in 35 years. If the strikes over pay go ahead, they are likely to cause some disruption to BT and EE customers around the UK, many of whom will be unable to have new phone and internet lines fitted or repaired.
5. Shopify short of ideas stock
Tech stock laggard Shopify is running low on ideas. In recent weeks the Canadian ecommerce company has split its stock, extended a tie-up with buy now, pay later company Affirm, pushed into business-to-business sales and partnered with Twitter to launch a new sales channel. But nothing has changed the post-pandemic shift in consumer shopping habits, says Lex.
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