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Start-up of the Week: With its e-bikes, Wheels is changing ‘Smart City’ game

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Sleek design, swappable parts, batteries, built-in Bluetooth speakers, and many charging points are some of the product features and services provided by Wheels

In today’s edition of International Finance’s start-up exploration, we will talk about a shared electric mobility platform called ‘Wheels’, whose expertise lies in its hybrid electric vehicles.

‘The plausibility of being everywhere’ and ‘a safety-first micro-mobility company bringing the joy of the ride to cities everywhere’ are the taglines of the company, which promotes smart city projects through its products.

Wheels lets its users rent motor pods on a daily/monthly/yearly basis. It also overlooks the maintenance and all other expenses related to these vehicles. If the motor pod stops working, the user will find a new one parked for him/her.

Sleek design, swappable parts, batteries, built-in Bluetooth speakers, and many charging points are some of the product features and services provided by Wheels.

The venture operates in the American cities of Austin, Culver City, Los Angeles, Miami, Miami Lakes, New York City, Orlando, San Diego, Santa Monica, Seattle and West Hollywood. In Germany, Wheels’ only operational zone lies in Berlin. Wheels’ motor pods can be easily booked through its mobile app.

Knowing The Venture In Detail

“Wheels means reduced congestion and lowered CO2 emissions. Wheels is safe, sustainable, and efficient means of moving people through communities each and every day,” it stated further.

“The frame. The wheels. The safety helmet. The brake levers. The self-sanitizing handlebars. The very technology that powers the experience. All of these and more only reinforce that Wheels was thoughtfully – purposefully – designed to provide every neighborhood with sustainable Transportation,” it explained.

“The functionality and the spirit of Wheels will be uniquely embedded in the DNA of how all of us live, work and play together each and every day. Wheels represents the energy, pulse, and heartbeat of how a city moves and thrives, hour to hour, day to day. Wheels makes cities more liveable, celebrating locals and tourists alike, by offering access to its fleet in a way that is truly for everyone,” the venture commented, while envisioning its take on transportation across smart cities.

Wheels’ products are ‘The Atlas’ and ‘Wheels 2.0′. Atlas comes with an anti-tipping kickstand technology, apart from being accompanied by tip sensor alert systems for dispatch resolution. Its wheels have a fully internalized braking system and zero exposed wires. Atlas’ custom drivetrain and sensors enable the vehicle to self-diagnose issues.

“These data points are sent to our team in real-time for analysis and resolution. Supports multiple languages, and allows for City required messaging and turn-by-turn directions. A 50% additional battery life means the bikes travel further between charges. Our customized “single lever, split service brake system” (electrical & brake pad subsystem) makes it simple and easy to stop in a safe manner,” the company said.

Talking about Wheels 2.0, it comes with ‘Smart Lighting’ (a feature which lets the vehicle’s lights automatically turn on, if the user starts the ride at night), ‘Intelligent Motor’ (tuned for optimal power and a quiet and smooth ride), ‘Sound System’ (another feature letting the vehicle users connect over Bluetooth and play music from the built-in speakers), ‘Dual Disc Brakes’ and ‘Smart Electronics’ (a smart CPU which connects to all onboard systems making for a fully integrated experience).

Wheels have funding of USD 96.3 million. The monthly price for renting the venture’s motor pods through its app is USD 129.99. On a single charge, the user can ride up to 30 miles, with a top speed of 15 mph. These vehicles are as light as 20 kg and their batteries can be fully charged within five hours. The app also allows the user to track his/her Wheels’ motor pod via smartphones (these pods also come with integrated anti-theft alarm), apart from enjoying facilities like getting quick and on-spot vehicle repair, theft replacement protection, and last but not the least, comprehensive servicing and maintenance activities.

The user also gets instant access to his/her motor pod via smartphone, as the app allows the person to lock and unlock the pods, control the vehicle lights, tracking the GPS location, all with a tap on the phone screen.

“Our flexible formula allows you to keep the vehicle with you for the entire rental period, gives you access to our customer support, and includes all the benefits reserved to the Wheels Club’s members,” the company remarked, while narrating its rental feature called ‘Wheelsclub’.

Wheels In News

The Los Angeles-based start-up, which was founded in 2019 by Jonathan and Joshua Viner, brothers who also established the popular dog-walking app Wag, hit a headwind in February 2020, despite its last round of fundraising being led by DBL Partners, an early investor in Tesla.

The company decided to lay off around 6% of its 300-plus staff strength (about 20 people). There were also reports about the venture downsizing its e-bike rental services in some American cities.

The layoffs affected the company’s operations team, along with divisions focused on asset recovery, supply chain, and staff recruitment. The founders, however, back in 2020, stated that Wheels would focus more on expansion in Europe, as the start-up acquired a Spanish start-up called Mygo.

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