Bike Life
Bike Life

How Zoov are contributing to a more sustainable brand of micromobility

by Charles Philippe, on April 14, 2021


To fight climate change, we must all reduce CO2 emissions, either by doing more (being better, more efficient) or by doing less (being mindful, consumption in moderation).

Zoov was founded in 2017 with those principles in mind and, now with the backing of the Mobivia group, Smoove & Zoov will continue the mission. Here is the summary of our report on Zoov’s environmental impact.

Sustainability at the heart of our electric bike-sharing technologies

We innovate to reduce CO2 emissions.

According to a 2020 survey, 33% of Zoov users want to ditch their cars in favour of shared electric bikes.  

With more than 10,000 direct users and countless more that use our technology through our partners, we are helping people avoid a considerable number of CO2-producing trips. Beyond the modal shift away from cars, however, caring about the environment is at the core of the design and development phases of our technology.    

For example, Zoov has designed (and patented) the world's lightest and most compact charging station, which greatly reduces the need for battery-swapping - a practice that can be incredibly costly - both financially and ecologically.

Zoov smart stations are installed in under an hour, no roadworks required.

Here’s a non-exhaustive list of measures we take to help reduce our ecological footprint as a designer, supplier and operator of self-service electric bikes:

  • Designed to last: When Zoov bikes reach the end of their life (after 5 years on the streets), they can be 95% recycled including the aluminum frame, fork and handlebars. It also is less prone to vandalism thanks to a motor lock rather than a mechanical lock (which causes broken spokes).
  • Self-diagnosis features and 24/7 geolocation: allowing for quick interventions to limit damage.
  • Easy-to-manage: most maintenance can be done on the spot, requiring less potentially polluting trips back to the workshop.
  • Field Oriented Control (FOC): Zoov’s motor technology provides the best electric assist performance while consuming 30% less energy than a conventional system. When not in use, Zoov electric bikes switch to energy-saving mode to conserve battery.
  • For every 10 minutes spent at the station, Zoov bikes gain 5km of range, thanks to a patented energy transfer technology between bikes.
  • When batteries are no longer fit for the bikes (80% capacity), we give them a second life - as a source of energy in the stations. Then, when we’ve squeezed the last energy out of them, we recycle them through our partner Screlec.

Most studies suggest that bike-sharing services have a net positive environmental impact, that they replace trips that produce more CO2 emissions than running the service does.

One of the reasons why it might not have a positive impact is because not all services have bikes that are optimized for smart operations. Many services neglect the environmental impact in pursuit of business outcomes, often relying on ‘off-the-shelf’ equipment from Asia, which leads to unsustainable fleets, not to mention the soaring operating costs.

As both manufacturer and operator - wanting to pursue constant improvement - Zoov measures the environmental impact of our activity on the entire value chain.

Calculating the environmental impact of our activity

The CO2 emissions related to Zoov's activity are broken down as follows:

  • Bike manufacturing and maintenance: 17g/km
  • Repairs: 5g/km
  • Battery recharging: 0.25g/km
  • Operations (relocation, swapping): 39g/km
  • Cloud infrastructure: 5g/km
  • Increase in users' caloric needs: 2g/km

Total emissions: 68.3g/km

To put this into context, let’s see how this compares with the CO2 emissions produced by other modes of urban transport (pardon our French).

Fleet management (pink) makes up a considerable part of all emissions coming from electric scooters. 

The areas which require the most attention are operations and manufacturing. Areas in which we will continue to limit our emissions by developing more innovative technologies.

Based on the estimated modal shift from the feedback from Zoov users, our bikes replace a mixture of means of transportation that emit on average 134.5g of CO2 per kilometer (125-145g after sensitivity analysis).

This means that, in 2020, 66g of CO2 was saved for every kilometer travelled on a Zoov.

Opportunities to reduce Zoov's carbon footprint

The study drew up a list of areas for improvement that will enable Zoov to develop increasingly environmentally-friendly bike-sharing solutions. For the most part, these points have already been integrated, at various levels, into the teams' daily missions.

  1. Carry out the maximum number of bike repairs and maintenance on site to reduce the number polluting trips in vans (to and from our warehouses).
  2. Improve the resistance of our electric bikes to wear and tear, adverse weather and the more sinister (theft/vandalism).
  3. Deploy smart electric stations with our partners on a large scale to decrease their operational carbon footprint.
  4. Improve the performance and energy management of Zoov electric bikes.
  5. Replace our fleet maintenance vehicles with less polluting (electric) models.
  6. Sourcing parts and assembling them as close as possible to the area of activity to reduce emissions linked with transport.

Thanks to these improvements - and an ambitious development plan to see 80,000 self-service electric bikes in circulation by 2025 - Zoov estimates saving close to 60,000 tons of CO2 (net) over the next 5 years.

In 2020, Zoov's electric bike trips had a carbon footprint nearly 50% smaller than if users had used their usual modes of transportation.

Given the large-scale deployment of charging stations and new technological innovations that will reduce the ecological footprint of production (assembly in France, use of new, more CO2-efficient materials) and operations (optimization of bike consumption, better charging performance, 'self-piloting' relocation operations), we estimate a near-70% reduction in our emissions by 2025.

Shared electric bike services designed by Zoov will go a long way to achieving the EU target of -60% of transport-related emissions by 2050.