At Electrify Expo 2022, Cars Aren't the Only EVs Sparking Interest – dot.LA

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“If you get the chance, make sure to test drive a Toyota.”
I’m walking down a row of booths at Electrify Expo at the Long Beach Convention Center on a hot June day. I thank the red-shirted brand ambassador and scurry towards the nearest e-scooter.
Sorry, Toyota. I’m not here for the cars.
Electrify Expo—the biggest outdoor electric vehicle festival in the U.S.—took place this past weekend and e-scooters, e-bikes and other micro EVs took center stage.
At an event focused on electrification, more than half of the companies represented were in the micromobility space. And there’s a good reason for that.
According to industry leaders, electrification means significant room for growth in the market as American consumers emerge from the dark years of the pandemic and seek out more active and eco-friendly modes of transportation.
Only 6% of bikes sold in the U.S. are e-bikes, compared to a rate of 17% in Europe and 50% in the Netherlands, said Claudia Wasko, vice president and general manager of Bosch eBike Systems, at the event’s Industry Day.
“Last year, 2021, in Europe, almost 6 million e-bikes have been sold; just in Germany, 2 million e-bikes have been sold. And in the US, not even 1 million. But this shows us the huge potential we still have,” she said.
Industry speakers also praised European countries for their adoption of comprehensive micromobility infrastructure.
“If you drive around Los Angeles… you'd have a tough time being on an electric bike or an electric scooter or even one of our mopeds, that can hit speeds of 60 miles an hour,” said Joseph Constanty, director of global strategy at Niu. “You still feel out of place when a huge Ford Ranger F-150 comes riding up right next to you and you're dwarfed by it. It's an infrastructure problem.”
Companies are banking on a cultural shift as Americans get out of their cars and onto an e-bike, moped or e-scooter.
Jesse Lapin, chief operating officer of Magnum Bikes, suggested that it’s less of a shift and more of a return. Americans ride their bikes as children and then abandon them in the garage as soon as they turn 16. However, driving itself might be going out of style; millennials are driving less than their elders and Gen Z is in no rush to get in the driver’s seat (of a car). And who can blame them? Gas prices have hit record highs with no sign of relief on the horizon.
What are they gonna do, take the bus? JackRabbit Mobility is hoping they take a micro e-bike instead, with a 24 pound, 20 mile-per-hour device marketed to college students and other casual riders. But why stop with one? Lapin sees the future American garage filled with not one, but two e-bikes as the market diversifies.
“E-bikes truly are the best way to communicate and to connect people with other people, people with places, people with views. It's the best way to visit national parks; it's the best way to get out there and connect with yourself,” he said.
And there’s one other advantage to micromobility: It’s hella fun. And with a looming recession and two years and counting into a pandemic, American adults with disposable income just want eco-friendly toys that go zoom. Or at least that’s what the industry is banking on.
It’s true: When I’m flying around the test track on an e-bike and I hit the throttle, getting that coveted 28-miles-per-hour, I feel like a kid again.
Provide a mode of transportation that you can charge from the comfort of your one-bedroom apartment, one that’s fun, good for the environment and lets you fly past stopped rush hour traffic on Venice Boulevard?
Cars could never.
Kristin Snyder is dot.LA's 2022/23 Editorial Fellow. She previously interned with Tiger Oak Media and led the arts section for UCLA's Daily Bruin.
Last week after the mass exodus of Twitter employees, content creator Rosie Nguyen shared a link to her Instagram account. She wasn’t alone. In the hysteria that followed Elon Musk’s ultimatum to commit to a new “hardcore” Twitter or leave the company with severance pay, manycreators did the same.

But Nguyen had another link to share as well: her Fanhouse account. The subscription platform is a way for creators to offer their fans content in exchange for a monthly fee.
“It is a very, very scary thought as a creator that everything I built up in these last four years could just disappear in one day because someone that runs a platform just decides that's what they want to do,” Nguyen says.
Which is why Nguyen created Fanhouse in the first place. In fact, the events last week played out similar to one of Nguyen’s frequent nightmares: “Those 200,000 people are gone, and I'll never know who they are or be able to connect with them again,” she says.
Even before launching her company, however, Nguyen had come to realize that monetization on Twitter is more difficult than on platforms like Instagram and TikTok. She says the only way she initially made money off her Twitter account was from her followers Venmoing her tips. Which is why she, along with Fanhouse co-founders Khoi Le and Amy Shen, wanted to find a way to cultivate more of a community behind those one-time tips.
Today, Fanhouse offers group chats, polls, exclusive posts and Spotify account connections on top of the option to offer content for free. The company takes 10% of each exchange, and to date, Fanhouse has paid out over $30 million to creators.
All of which was spurred by Nguyen’s philosophy that a creator only needs 1,000 truly dedicated fans who will like content, purchase merch or buy subscription services.
“For me, the 200,000 is a cool number,” Nguyen says. “But, actually, the 500 people on my Fanhouse is the more valuable number because that's literally where my income is coming from.”
In the aftermath of the Twitter frenzy, Nguyen has opened up her formerly paywalled Fanhouse account full of exclusive posts for anyone who wants to join. Per her Fanhouse account, Nguyen still intends to make $2,000 a month through fan donations—if not, she will either revive the paywall or focus on creating more sponsored content.
Other creators though are still using Fanhouse to monetize their content. With over one million YouTube subscribers, content creator and Fanhouse user Jimmy Zhang says that finding the core group of fans who were willing to invest in his content was key to sustaining his career. Zhang found Fanhouse through Nguyen and says he was drawn to the platform’s creative elements.
“I don't think anything's free—even on YouTube, you have to watch ads, and time is essentially money,” Zhang says. “Either way, you're giving something up. With a platform like Fanhouse, you pay just a little bit extra and maybe you get to watch the videos ad-free.”
Zhang offers live lectures, Q&As and exclusive posts on his Fanhouse page. And one way of luring fans to the platform is via his YouTube videos: Zhang will end on cliffhangers and promises that the finale is exclusively available on Fanhouse.
Nguyen recognizes that encouraging users to not only migrate to a new platform but also pay for content is no easy ask. But for her, the people who do so are the ones that can make content creation a more viable and stable career path.
“I think what we really want to solve with Fanhouse is this concept of community ownership,” Nguyen says. "And that creators should be the ones that own their community.”
Kristin Snyder is dot.LA's 2022/23 Editorial Fellow. She previously interned with Tiger Oak Media and led the arts section for UCLA's Daily Bruin.
Last month, Helbiz announced that it had officially acquired Wheels, the West Hollywood-based startup founded by Joshua and Jonathan Viner, co-founders of Wag. But in Los Angeles, there were already signs that things were in flux.

In early August, Culver City announced that Wheels would no longer be operating within its boundaries. Then in September, Wheels also ceased operations in West Hollywood, pending adoption of sidewalk detection technology.
In the past, Wheels has prided itself on being the only shared e-scooter or e-bike operator to serve riders across the greater L.A. metro area — including the city of L.A., Santa Monica, Culver City and West Hollywood. There are 88 municipalities in L.A. County and each one controls its own shared micromobility program with different rules, regulations and fees. Beverly Hills does not allow scooters to operate or park within its boundaries, while the city of L.A. has six different operators competing for space in lucrative zones like Downtown and Venice (Lyft is out as of mid-November).
In a September city council meeting, West Hollywood announced a new sidewalk detection requirement for its three operators, Bird, Lime and Wheels. While all three have geofencing technology, sidewalk detection is more precise and meant to deter riders from riding on the sidewalk.
“[Wheels] didn't want to roll it out if it was going to be off by a couple of feet,” said Coby Wagman, parking operations supervisor for West Hollywood. “That could be the difference between someone on the street, a bike lane or a sidewalk.”
Once Wheels can demonstrate to the city that they have the technology, the company will be allowed to rejoin the Dockless Mobility Pilot Program.
But in Culver City, things are less certain.
According to Ryan Hund, a transportation planner for the Culver City Transportation Department, the city is currently evaluating their shared micromobility program to determine whether they will accept new applications.
“In order to operate in Culver City,” he said via email, “Wheels would have to go through the same RFQ [request for qualification] process as any other potential operators.”
Currently, Bird is the only operator in Culver City’s shared micromobility program.
In an emailed statement to dot.LA, Wheels CEO Marco McCottry said that Wheels is planning to return to both cities eventually.
"We’ve had to make tough decisions in our business and operating in Culver City doesn’t make sense for us at this time. We hope to work with [the] city to relaunch in the future. We look forward to returning to West Hollywood as they recently added a sidewalk detection requirement for operators which we will be demoing soon."
These strategic moves come at a rocky moment for shared micromobility. Bird just announced that it overstated revenue for the last two years, causing its stock to plummet. The company says it might not have enough cash to continue operations. Earlier this month, Lyft laid off 13% of its employees and last week it pulled all e-bikes and e-scooters from Santa Monica and L.A.
In an email, Juan Matute, deputy director of the UCLA Institute of Transportation Studies, said that Santa Monica’s future shared micromobility program is the one to watch as companies start to drop out of the market.
“Investors subsidized scooter operations for years,” he said. “Though some of this investment went into technology, most went into unprofitable competition because the company wanted to [be] the last standing.”
Santa Monica will begin recruiting two operators for a three-to-five year term in January 2023.
Yasmin is the host of the "Behind Her Empire" podcast, focused on highlighting self-made women leaders and entrepreneurs and how they tackle their career, money, family and life.
Each episode covers their unique hero's journey and what it really takes to build an empire with key lessons learned along the way. The goal of the series is to empower you to see what's possible & inspire you to create financial freedom in your own life.
Karen Young launched Oui the People in 2014 with only $1,500 in her pocket from her Brooklyn apartment. Today, the company is the fastest growing Black-owned beauty brand in the U.S.
On this episode of Behind Her Empire, Young talks about the role of an entrepreneur, the importance of doing research before launching a brand, and how her immigrant upbringing influenced her business drive.

“I think people put a lot of filter and gloss onto the word,” Young said about the term “entrepreneur.” “I think really, truly, you're just a person who walks around and you see opportunities — where people might see problems, you see an opportunity, and I saw an opportunity.”
Young said she struggled with razor bumps and ingrown hairs when shaving. That gave her an idea for a new type of razor and a new approach.
She knew the type of product she wanted to sell, but wanted to learn more about how to better serve potential customers. She began by connecting with bloggers and influencers and building relationships.
“I started talking to potential end consumers to make sure that if I was going to build something, they actually wanted it,” she explained.
Young also had another thing working in her favor: her background in the fashion industry, where she worked in the world of silkscreen goods.
“I knew how to access buyers. I knew how to put line sheets together. I knew how to price. I knew how to market. I knew how to tell the story,” she said.
She bought two different razors from Germany to use as prototypes that she could test on potential clients — gathering information about the look and feel, which one was easier to use and what people preferred. Once the product design was locked down, the challenging part was finding someone to build it.
“I went through the wringer of calling around different people,” she said of her early days trying to find a manufacturer that didn’t just want to create a pink razor for women. “And then one day a woman picked up on the other end — and that's our current manufacturer. I’d never get anywhere if it weren't for women picking up on the other end.”
Besides strong, empowering women that served as inspiration, Young credits her success to having a “core foundation.”
“I was able to fill in what I wanted the team to look like, what the product roadmap was going to look like, and the experiments that we were going to run in order to scale and build from there, and what our distribution plan was going to look like,” she said.
Over time, Oui the People has expanded to selling skincare products as well as razors, and continues to grow.

dot.la Social and Engagement Editor Andria Moore contributed to this post.
This podcast is produced by Behind Her Empire. The views and opinions expressed in the show are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect those of dot.LA or its newsroom.
Hear more of the Behind Her Empire podcast. Subscribe on Stitcher, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, iHeart Radioor wherever you get your podcasts.
Yasmin is the host of the "Behind Her Empire" podcast, focused on highlighting self-made women leaders and entrepreneurs and how they tackle their career, money, family and life.
Each episode covers their unique hero's journey and what it really takes to build an empire with key lessons learned along the way. The goal of the series is to empower you to see what's possible & inspire you to create financial freedom in your own life.
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