Scooters Update: Gotcha Struggles to Show Up, But Lime Is Here

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Wednesday, October 2, 2019, 7:20 am
Sarah Spohn

Gotcha CEO Sean Flood on MSU’s campus in a photo by Raymond Holt.

Electronic scooter rental company Gotcha’s site planning and operations team recently spent weeks in the East Lansing area, setting up demos on campus and working with local municipalities to bring the e-scooters to town.

But things aren’t going as planned for the company’s launch in East Lansing, and it now looks like its devices may be absent from the area entirely this season.

Caroline Passe, Gotcha’s director of public relations, told ELi Tuesday, “We are continuing to experience challenges with our technology. Gotcha is currently testing the software to resolve these issues. We are working with our partners to determine when we can get scooters on the road as quickly as possible.”

Earlier this week, ELi received an anonymous tip from someone who had signed up to be a “juicer” in the area. (A juicer is a person contracted to recharge the machines overnight.) That person passed along to ELi a message received on Monday from the individual who would have been their supervisor relaying “terrible news”:

“Gotcha has decided to shut down the MSU market even before the launch. Although they did not provide me with a solid reason, my guess is they can’t get the scooter technology to work effectively.”

Last March, the City of East Lansing decided app-controlled electric scooters could return to the area if companies agreed to their terms. In practice, the companies also had to reach agreements with MSU and the City of Lansing to operate effectively in the area and avoid the kind of impounding MSU conducted last year.

This fall, the e-scooter company Lime has dropped its devices back in the East Lansing area, having agreed to uphold the rules, including a 10 mph speed limit on sidewalks and sharing Lime's local ride data with the City of East Lansing.

Just a few weeks ago, Gotcha had gone on the record with ELi with excitement about an East Lansing launch, saying it is a prime location, with “connectivity between the municipalities and the university,” in the words of CEO Sean Flood. The launch was planned for the second or third week of September.

On September 25, Gotcha’s Facebook page showed an image of scooters on MSU’s campus, and the company was encouraging users to download its app to scoot through campus. Another post two days later displayed an MSU student on the Gotcha scooters.

The South Carolina-based company’s website also listed East Lansing as an active Gotcha market.

But now it looks like we won’t be seeing Gotcha devices here any time soon.

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