Electric kickboards, a new good in the market currently attracting many entrepreneurs, is the potential green replacement for short-distance transportation. According to The Korea Transport Institute, 200,000 electric kickboards, which is around 3 times the initial measure in 2016, are expected to be in use by 2022.
Electronic kickboards are set to gain more popularity as a green substitute for existing forms of transportation. A number of rental apps are spreading worldwide such as Bird or Lime.
In the case of Korea, rental service start-up companies began to be established from 2017 with KICKGOING. In 2019, similar start-ups are rapidly increasing such as gogoSsing, Swing, and our interviewee DART. Following with the increase in demand, the South Korean government is attempting to resolve problems with current regulations concerning electric kickboards this year.
On March 14, Presidential Committee on the fourth Industrial Revolution (PCFIR) held “The fifth Regulatory and Institutional Reform Hackathon,” in which matters about personal mobility regulations were discussed with relevant industries and academia.
Main changes the committee proposed to achieve later this year involved how electric kickboards will be treated from a regulatory perspective. Currently, electric kickboards are sorted as cars. The committee concluded they aim to apply the same rules of electric bicycles on electric kickboards and not cars, which will allow them to be used on bicycle road under restraint, plus without a drivers’ license.
Kim Tae-hyun, the founder and CEO of DART, an electric kickboard rental service start-up, shared his thoughts on promised changes.
“I think this much of discussion (by PCFIR) was a good step,” Kim said. “The part that electric kickboards need driver’s license and can’t use bicycle roads have been the biggest obstacle for start-ups like us: I believe such changes would allow people to use electric kickboards easier, which will help the industry grow faster.”
Kim also mentioned a number of benefits of using electric kickboards and why he thinks the reduction of cars on roads will bring a positive change.
“Roads in Korea is often very full of cars, making the driving conditions dangerous and increasing the emission of vehicle exhaustion,” Kim said. “Creating new roads for micro mobility, or simply more people using electronic kickboards will reduce the number of cars on roads.” Kim shared that his personal motivation in founding DART also originates from wanting a greener environment.
“I used to work in Lucid Motors which produces cars that run on electricity,” Kim said. “I learned from their efforts to bring the society environmentally friendly vehicles, and wanted to introduce greener transportation in Korea, which in this case are electric kickboards.”
CEO Kim further shared how DART is preparing to resolve issues regarding the electric kickboards. He had proposed to open a helmet renting system for DART's users in response to the condemnation that rental services neglect user safety.
"We plan to rent helmets to our users register themselves in the DART's helmet rental service which delivers helmets to their home," Kim said.
Also, regarding the controversy over unfixed parking system which is building controversy due to citizens complaining about the electric kickboards blocking the pedestrian road, Kim said that DART is going to run a system where its app notifies their managers once some kickboards are left on places it is preferred not to be.
DART is currently running beta-tests on its services which will first open in Gangnam, and further cover Sinchon area.
“Some suggestions such as PCIFR's consideration on building micro mobility and micro-mobility-only-roads within new cities or discarding driver license policy,” Park Jhung-soo, professor of Department of Public Administration, said when asked about the discussion by PCIFR from an administrative perspective. “We need to discuss more over whether electric kickboards are safe enough to be used without drivers’ license.”