Access emissions-free transport with an app
If you’ve spent time walking or cycling around Amsterdam recently, there’s a good chance that you saw one of felyx’s dark green scooters in action. In fact, you’ve probably seen one rather than heard it, as the firm’s rentable electric vehicles make only the faintest of noises. Emissions-free and available to anyone with a Dutch address, a driver’s license and a local bank account or international credit card, these rentable e-scooters are making cities cleaner and quieter.
The concept behind felyx is simple. The firm offers its scooters through an app and they cost around 30 cents per minute to use. Riders don’t need to worry about maintenance or parking, and when they are finished, they can leave their scooter within a pre-defined service area. The vans felyx uses to maintain its fleet are also electric, further reinforcing the company’s sustainable ethos.
Helping thousands of people travel green
felyx was launched in 2015 by Quinten Selhorst and Maarten Poot, who came up with the concept when they couldn’t find a parking space while using a car-share scheme. “That’s where it all started,” explains Luc van Emmerik, felyx’s global head of expansion, “and in 2017, we placed 108 scooters in Amsterdam and instantly saw huge demand.”
Since launching, felyx has seen its users grow exponentially – and it now has tens of thousands of customers in Amsterdam, Den Hague and Rotterdam. Hundreds of new people sign up to the app each week, and felyx has been quickly expanding its team. Van Emmerik has a simple explanation for why the service is so successful: “Our main aim is to make cities more liveable.”
Photo: Luc van Emmerik from felyx
Providing an alternative to your car
Despite the huge demand and continued growth, Van Emmerik says felyx’s launch was not all smooth sailing. “The initial reaction was great,” he says, “but one major issue was that we were launching at the same time as a lot of shared bike schemes. People were overwhelmed by the number of services that were launching at once.”
Another problem was the Dutch government – who said shortly after felyx debuted that all vehicle sharing schemes should be banned. “Fortunately, with the support of the public in Amsterdam, we were able to show that we deserved a chance, and so the government allowed us to operate.”
That decision has caused a little tension among some members of the business community who say felyx essentially have a monopoly on the market. But Van Emmerik says that a scheme like theirs – one that, he argues, reduces congestion and CO2 emissions – is focused on the greater good.
“I would say that we all serve a bigger purpose. We see more and more liveability problems in cities and in the end, that causes lots of problems for residents. That needs to change, and the sooner that we can change the mindset of people who use their cars to travel for short distances, and to get to work, the better.”
As well as riders who use the scooters for short, single journeys, felyx has also seen a rise in the number of people using them for longer return trips out of the city. “That’s great for us,” Van Emmerik says, “as it shows us that they’re replacing their cars with our scooters.”
There is also a high demand from train and bus stations, something he says, “shows people are coming to the city knowing that parking a car would be hard – and instead are using public transport and then a shared scheme like ours to complete their journey”.
City dwellers are embracing smart mobility
Overall, Van Emmerik is happy to see people embracing smart mobility in all its forms. “That shows they are willing to change their travel habits,” he explains. “We could only grow as fast as we have if people are willing to try new things. The perception of travellers is changing, and that changes the daily commute to and from cities. That’s great for us, but also for people living in cities around the world."
“I think in the next few years, we will see clear plans being developed...In Amsterdam, you see cars being forbidden in more areas, in Brussels you have ‘clean zones’ where you are only allowed in a certain area and it has [to be a car with] a specific motor type. This collaboration – between governments, municipalities and businesses like ours – will not only change the way we travel, but the way we plan our trips in the future.”
Amsterdam’s supportive and open business scene
Unsurprisingly, as a young, energetic and creative company, felyx has long felt at home in Amsterdam. “It’s a great city for our product – it has a pioneer mindset and it wants to be the best example of what a capital can be,” Van Emmerik says.
Continuing, he says the city “was a perfect test case for us. The Amsterdam region is also a great place to do business: people work hard, but we’re also about having fun and that’s a big part of our companies’ cultures. It’s also very open-minded. If we need help, we call other startups and even bigger companies, including banks like ABN AMRO, and they help us. And we also do our best to help others when they need it.”
Read more about the smart mobility industry in Amsterdam.