SEOUL -- To help pedestrians travel safely on sidewalks, a district office in Seoul has started the test operation of designated parking zones for electric scooters and other shared or last-mile mobility services that often have been left lying haphazardly on the ground, causing inconveniences.
Last-mile mobility service startups kick-started their businesses using electric scooters in Seoul and its satellite cities with some 60,000 scooters in 2016. According to the Korea Transport Institute, a state-funded research institute, some 220,000 last-mile service scooters will carry people nationwide in 2022.
The Seocho District office in southern Seoul said on Monday that it has designated some 50 places in areas busy with on-foot traffic such as around subway station exits.
Last-mile mobility services are popular in office districts and populated areas in Seoul because of cheap fares and accessibility. Users can search and pick up nearby scooters equipped with GPS using smartphone apps and leave the two-wheelers wherever they wish to after using them.
Used scooters have become obstacles on sidewalks as they are left strewn on the ground until service trucks retrieve them around midnight for charging. Some are left untouched for days as the operation of scooter-retrieving trucks is limited.
There are about seven last-mile mobility service startups including Hyundai Zet, the last-mile mobility platform service wing of Hyundai's auto group. Hyundai Zet began its service in the central city of Daejeon with about 100 electric scooters in 2019. They were provided on the campus of the Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology (KAIST), a prominent state research institute. About 100 won ($0.085) is charged per minute with a basic fare of 1,000 won.
The global market is projected to reach $500 billion by 2030, according to global market research company McKinsey & Company.
The carmaker also revealed an innovative last-mile transport in August last year. A prototype for a vehicle-mounted electric scooter unveiled by Hyundai has a unique tri-folding design. It can travel up to 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) at a top speed of 20 km per hour. Hyundai said the scooter would be available as an option for Hyundai and Kia cars from 2021.
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