Ford, GM enter the electric scooter game: hundreds of scooters deployed in Detroit

By Rod Meloni - Reporter, CFP ®, Dane Sager Kelly

DETROIT - The Ford Motor Company and General Motors have spent the past 100 years selling us four wheels on the ground and one for our hands, but now they've decided two wheels and a handlebar can be a profit-making conveyance. 

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Ford deployed bicycles in San Francisco recently, and discovered that this is the preferable alternative. It's called Spin, and if you haven't seen one, they've been deployed Thursday around the city of Detroit starting.

It's only in the last six months that scooters cropped up across Detroit, and much like the rest of big American cities, they are zipping along sidewalks and side streets at a breakneck pace. The growth is expected to expand as a travel option because customers love them, according to Sunny Madra, a vice president at Ford X.

RELATED: Detroit City Council approves more electric scooters to be put in neighborhoods

Ford's version is the Spin -- a product of the Segway company Ford recently bought. 

General Motors recently presented two different versions of an e-bike. One folds and one is compact. They don't have names yet, but General Motors is running an online contest for riders to provide the name.

Ford went bigger with the scooter.

"You can stand on this thing. You can ride it in a suit and you're not going to get sweaty," Madra said. "I think there's additional usage than bikes."

If you haven't ridden one yet, its battery-powered motor moves along very similarly to an electric car.

"The scooter can actually go a lot faster, but we work with the cities," Madra said. "In the city of Detroit, we limit them to 15 miles per hour."

Right now, Ford has roughly 200 on Detroit streets and more in a dozen other cities.

Ford believes most people will spend the buck to unlock the bike and pay 15 cents a minute through an app for what they call last mile travel -- like from a bus station or the office -- but it is looking at new subscription services where riders could have a charged model delivered on thier doorstep every morning.

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