Wind has been offering its service to several Korean cities since 2019. Country Manager Howard Park gives some insights into our Korean operations and how Wind is supporting Korean cities become greener and less congested.
Where is Wind currently operating in Korea?
We currently operate Wind scooters across eight cities in Korea, including the capital city Seoul, the 2nd largest city Busan, and the largest island in Korea Jeju. When we launched operations in early 2019, we were among the first e-scooter operators in Korea and in Asia as a whole. Korea was also one of the first countries that Wind launched outside of Europe.
Korea has many factors that make it the perfect environment for e-scooter-sharing services. With one of the highest population densities in the world, even higher than in countries like Japan and India, the Korean market has a high concentration of potential users, particularly for those wishing to avoid a crowded commute during peak hours or shorten their traveling time in general. What’s more, Korea’s infrastructure is well developed and commuters are digitally-savvy. Last but not least, Korea has the highest smartphone penetration in the world, the fastest internet speed in the world, and ranks top in innovation and R&D, so the adoption of new innovative products and services like ours is very fast.
What are the challenges cities like Busan and Seoul are facing when it comes to urban transportation?
With its high density and urbanization, traffic congestion is very serious in Korea, especially in large cities like Seoul and Busan. According to the Transport Ministry, commuters in Seoul spend an average of 1.5 hours a day driving to and from work. The number of registered passenger cars in the country has also been continuously growing and currently, 1 in 2 people owns a car. In addition, 85% of all car rides in Korea is done by only one individual and the single-usage rate has been increasing rapidly every year. This is leaving a serious mark on the environment and people are suffering from pollution and high fine dust levels. Air purifiers already are a must-have item in Korean city households.
How has Wind contributed to solving these issues?
Wind is offering a sustainable mode of transport by providing shared e-scooter schemes to the cities we operate in. People can use our scooters for their daily commute, run errands or visit friends and family – without being stuck in traffic. The scooter is designed as a vehicle that complements mass transit systems and covers the first and last mile of a journey. We do all of this by operating as sustainably as possible, for example by using electric vehicles for our operations, and by recycling most of our scooter parts. Furthermore, we have recently partnered with the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) and the Korea Climate Change Center to support the “Blue Skies and Net Zero 2050” campaign in Korea, where we will be supporting the Korean government so that Korea can become a net-zero carbon emission country by 2050.
Are local operations in Korea different from Wind operations in European markets?
Operations in both markets are similar in many ways. We have deployed our Wind 3.0 e-scooter to Korean streets, which is our custom-built vehicle, designed and produced in-house. The Wind 3.0 is the most robust e-scooter on the market and is specifically made for the sharing environment with a high lifecycle and a wider range. For our operations in Korea, we work very closely with the local governments so that any scooter-related requests made by citizens can be taken care of immediately. Currently, 95% of all requests made by residents or the city are taken care of by our on-ground staff within 2 hours. Our fast response time has helped smoothen the adoption and acceptance of scooter-sharing services in the cities we operate. We have also collaborated with local governments to educate users on how to ride our scooters safely. For example, we made a scooter safety instruction video in collaboration with the Seoul government, which is now being played on public subways and buses across Seoul. We have also established parking racks and parking spots in Busan that are further helping our users to park scooters correctly.
What is Wind’s goal for the year 2021?
The pandemic has changed the way people move around cities. During the most serious outbreak periods, people turned to scooter-sharing services as a mode of transportation to keep social distancing measures. We have also been approached by local governments for partnerships so that scooters can be safely adopted in their cities. The Korean government’s commitment to become a carbon-neutral country by 2050 is also a very positive development for the industry. All these factors are accelerating the adoption of e-scooter sharing services as a major mode of transportation across Korea. We want to continue fostering this change in urban mobility and support Korean cities in moving to a greener and more sustainable future.