The service, called Unagi All-Access, will be offered in New York City and Los Angeles. The company said it plans to expand to additional markets as it gathers customer feedback and refines the service.
Customers will be able to choose from two plans. There will be a pay-as-you-go monthly plan that costs $39 per month and a discounted annual plan for $34 a month. Unagi does charge a $50 initial setup fee, which means that first month will cost customers $89. The flat monthly fee includes maintenance and insurance for scooter theft or damage.
Once a customer subscribes, an assembled Model One scooter is shipped to their home within 24 hours, Unagi promises. The Model One costs $990 for customers who want to buy the scooter outright.
Once a customer cancels their subscription, Unagi reclaims the scooter, which is then put through an 80-point inspection. Unagi tells TechCrunch that it’s the same inspection that the scooters go through at the factory. There’s no written guarantee that subscribers will get a new scooter. However, Unagi said customers will likely get new scooters because the company has been ramping up production since the beginning of the pandemic to meet demand.
It is a risk for Unagi, but one the company is betting will pay off amid — and after — the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This model is well-suited to today’s world: as cities re-open, people are rethinking how they get to the supermarket, the post office and the park,” according to the company’s recent blog post announcing the service. “Data shows COVID-wary consumers are afraid of shared transportation, whether it’s the subway, an Uber or a shared scooter. They’re looking for safer alternatives.”
The company was already researching a subscription service before COVID-19 spread throughout the world, according to CEO David Hyman.
Unagi tested the idea last fall. A deeper study was launched in spring in partnership with UC Berkeley’s Haas Business School that determined demand was higher than expected.
“COVID just reinforced our desire to get it live and was the impetus for going live in both LA and NYC at the same time,” Hyman told TechCrunch in an email.
Unagi isn’t alone in this scooter subscription pivot, or what we like to call hardware-as-a-service. Others are also pursuing this business model, including Dance and Voi.