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The Xiaomi Mi scooter. Photo: Xiaomi.

The "scooter wars” are raging in San Francisco (and other cities), but one scooter is emerging victorious: the Xiaomi Mi electric scooter, used by several of the startups.

Why it matters: For now, these scooter companies have found a reliable vehicle in the Xiaomi product — but as this war heats up, they may find that designing and manufacturing their own scooters will help differentiate them.

Though it sports the Xiaomi brand, the Mi electric scooter is actually designed by Ninebot, which was founded in 2012 in Beijing by Wang Ye and Lufeng Gao.

The Segway connection: In 2015, the same year Ninebot raised $80 million from investors like Sequoia China and Xiaomi, among others, it also merged with Segway—yes, that Segway company. Which means Segway just might become part of the future of transportation after all.

  • The prior year, Ninebot was one of the companies Segway sued for patent infringement. Since then, the two companies have kept their individual brands while also sharing resources. Ninebot has also worked closely with Xiaomi on certain projects, including the Mi scooter.
  • Ye was inspired by the popularity of electric scooters he observed in Southern Europe in 2011, according to a Xiaomi blog post.

The Xiaomi Mi scooter was created for personal use, but it’s quickly become the model of choice for a number of electric scooter-sharing startups.

  • The list of companies using the Mi includes Spin, Blue Ducks and Bird. (Although Bird won't confirm its use of the Xiaomi scooter, sources outside the company have identified the vehicle.) All these companies have customized their scooters, adding GPS-enabled tracking devices and integrating their own mobile apps, among other tweaks. LimeBike has designed its own scooter, while Waybots uses a scooter by Minimotors.
  • "The fact that scooter-sharing companies consider it ideal for their use case and have purchased it for that purpose is testament to the quality of Mi Electric Scooter,” a Xiaomi spokesperson told Axios.
  • "We wanted to make sure we had the best possible riding machine," Spin co-founder and president Euwyn Poon said in a statement to Axios. "Xiaomi is one of the best manufacturers in the world and they've spent over a decade developing electric mobility devices, so we knew they'd be a good partner for us."
  • The scooter was first unveiled in late 2016, and the company has released at least one other version in addition to the classic Mi model.
  • The Mi weighs 27 lbs., can go about 18.6 miles on a single battery charge, and supports up to 220 lbs. payload. It can also be tracked via Bluetooth using Xiaomi's Mi app.
  • In the U.S., Amazon is the official seller of the Xiaomi Mi scooter, and it retails for $499.

Bottom line: Some of these startups are considering designing and manufacturing their own hardware, but for the time being, Xiaomi's Mi scooter is helping them get in the game fast.

Go deeper

Mike Allen, author of AM
47 mins ago - Economy & Business

America on borrowed time

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Economic recovery will not be linear as the world continues to grapple with the uncertainty of the pandemic.

Why it matters: Despite being propped up by an extraordinary amount of fiscal stimulus and support from central banks, the state of the global economy remains fragile.

Scoop: Gina Haspel threatened to resign over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

CIA Director Gina Haspel. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel threatened to resign in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelation stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.

Updated 13 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.

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