Photo: Ford

America's two largest automakers are branching out beyond their traditional businesses: GM plans to launch a lineup of electrified bicycles and Ford just bought an electric scooter company.

Why it matters: By 2030, 60% of the world's population will live in urban areas, per the UN's World's Cities in 2016 report. As cities get more crowded, commuters are looking for alternative ways to complete their journeys, from ride-hailing to e-bikes to scooter-sharing — sometimes combining all three in a single trip.

What's new: Ford just paid close to $100 million to acquire Spin, an electric scooter-sharing company based in San Francisco with operations in 13 cities and campuses across the U.S.

  • Ford had already dipped its toes into scooters with the recent rollout of its Jelly service on the campus of Purdue University, which also happens to be Spin CEO Derrick Ko's alma mater.

What's next: GM will launch the e-bikes in 2019 under a new, as yet unnamed brand.

  • The first 2 products have been designed: one foldable, the other compact, both using a proprietary propulsion system developed by GM.
  • They'll be equipped with integrated safety features, including rechargeable front and rear LED lights.
  • The bikes will be "smart" and "connected," using telemetry inspired by GM's OnStar service
  • GM has launched a contest to name the new e-bike brand. The winner, to be announced in early 2019, gets $10,000.

What to watch: Amid a massive shift in transportation, automakers like GM and Ford will likely introduce more of these micro-mobility services as a way to hang on to customers who no longer feel the need to own a personal automobile.

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