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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Photo: Superpedestrian

Superpedestrian, a Boston-based startup best known for its Copenhagen Wheel, a system that turns a regular bike into an electric one, now wants to sell a commercial-grade electric scooter to fleet operators.

The bigger picture: When scooters suddenly took over U.S. streets earlier this year, setting up a scooter rental company looked easy, thanks to manufacturers like Segway-Ninebot. But that’s not so much the case any more given the growing number of problems with the vehicles, including faulty scooters that were recalled, designs that couldn't sustain commercial use, and supply shortages.

Access to a large supply of scooters is becoming a real advantage for companies, and some are coming up with creative business models, such as franchising them.

  • Last week, Bird announced it’s rolling out a program through which small entrepreneurs or existing businesses can rent out a number of its scooters, label them with their own brands, uses a network of contract charging and repair workers, and keep 80% of the revenues.
  • Austin-based startup GOAT has a similar business model.

For its part, Superpedestrian says its vehicles can help scooter rental companies save money because they’re designed for heavy use that can sustain daily customers.

  • The company also touts its scooter’s ability to wirelessly self-diagnose and remedy a number of mechanical problems, such as resets needed for sensors, voltage or temperature, which constitute over half of common scooter repair needs.
  • Superpedestrian’s scooter costs about $500 (similar to what Bird and Lime spend per scooter), though the company won’t provide a specific price, and says each scooter can last between nine and 18 months. It says it already has scooter rental companies as customers but declined to name them.
  • Yes, but: As one scooter industry insider tells Axios, if Superpedestrian’s scooters do prove to be superior to other manufacturers, its customers are likely to want exclusive rights to the vehicle supply — a tricky situation for a company whose business model is to sell scooters to as many customers as possible.

Go deeper

Updated 7 hours ago - World

Mexican President López Obrador tests positive for coronavirus

Mexico's President Andrés Manuel López Obrador during a press conference at National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico, on Wednesday. Photo: Ismael Rosas/Eyepix Group/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced Sunday evening that he's tested positive for COVID-19.

Driving the news: López Obrador tweeted that he has mild symptoms and is receiving medical treatment. "As always, I am optimistic," he added. "We will all move forward."

7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Sarah Huckabee Sanders to run for governor of Arkansas

Sarah Huckabee Sanders at FOX News' studios in New York City in 2019. Photo: Steven Ferdman/Getty Images

Former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders will announce Monday that she's running for governor of Arkansas.

The big picture: Sanders was touted as a contender after it was announced she was leaving the Trump administration in June 2019. Then-President Trump tweeted he hoped she would run for governor, adding "she would be fantastic." Sanders is "seen as leader in the polls" in the Republican state, notes the Washington Post's Josh Dawsey, who first reported the news.

Coronavirus has inflamed global inequality

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

History will likely remember the pandemic as the "first time since records began that inequality rose in virtually every country on earth at the same time." That's the verdict from Oxfam's inequality report covering the year 2020 — a terrible year that hit the poorest, hardest across the planet.

Why it matters: The world's poorest were already in a race against time, facing down an existential risk in the form of global climate change. The coronavirus pandemic could set global poverty reduction back as much as a full decade, according to the World Bank.

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