LOS ANGELES — Bird Rides has released a electric scooter model in Los Angeles and Santa Monica that it hopes will outlive its predecessors — and find a market among scooter riders who want to purchase a Bird of their own.
The Bird One is more durable than its predecessors, the company says — which is key to the startup’s bottom line.
And riders will be able to buy the Bird One outright for $1,299 in classic black as well as two colors unavailable to the scooter-renting public: Dove White and Electric Rose, colors familiar to any iPhone fan.
“We think it’s by far the sexiest scooter on the market,” said Travis VanderZanden, Bird’s founder and CEO.
It marks the fifth scooter model that Bird has used on the streets, but only the second that the company designed in-house.
“We always knew we would have to go deep in the hardware business,” VanderZanden said. “Early on, when I started importing scooters on Alibaba, it was pretty clear that the hardware that existed at the time wasn’t going to cut it for a real commuter.”
Or, as it turns out, the company’s balance sheet. The consumer models from Xiaomi and Ninebot that Bird distributed across the world, fueled by hundreds of millions of dollars of venture capital, broke down before the company could break even on the cost of purchase, charging and maintenance.
The company also announced that it has stopped buying those models entirely and will phase them out of its scooter-renting network over the coming months. (The original Bird model, the Xiaomi m365, will remain available for monthly take-home rental in certain markets.)
A Los Angeles Times investigation found that the life span of some Bird Zeros — the company’s first in-house model — averaged about four months. Bird disputes the estimate, which was based on data pulled from the company’s app.
VanderZanden said Bird Zeros last an average of 10.6 months out on the streets. He estimated that the Bird One would last more than a year.
The company says the Bird One has better battery life than its predecessor, with a 30-mile range per charge, versus the 20-mile range that some field testers found in the Bird Zero. Those gains come without a significant increase in weight, the company said. It also has improved semi-pneumatic tires, a wheel lock enabled by smartphone, and the ability to climb a 15 percent grade, the company said.
Bird’s core business remains dockless scooter rental, but VanderZanden said the company had found that some riders are interested in owning their own two-wheelers.
Sam Dean is a Los Angeles Times writer.