San Francisco is known for its incredibly hilly streets and its penchant for innovation. The combination of the two has resulted in some very interesting ride-sharing variations. Though the City by the Bay does host Uber and Lyft, numerous startups involving rentable electric scooters have risen (and fallen) in the last year. The newest wannabe addition to the list? A shared electric skateboard platform.
Hong Kong-based Walnut Technology is the mind behind Spectra X, their latest electric skateboard model. Despite being put in the same category as shared bikes — where you pick one up in certain locations and leave it wherever your destination is –, their platform acts more like Airbnb: Walnut allows owners to rent out their skateboards through an app. Those looking for a ride can search for the nearest board, start up a conversation with the owner, and pay for their rental through the app.
The platform has yet to launch, even in China where it was started, but San Francisco’s interest in the technologically new and exciting may see the product jump the issue one all the kinks are worked out. According to a representative, Spectra X will be waterproof and come with a replaceable and rechargeable battery. The price range, however, is unclear; the company’s highest-end board (the Spectra Silver) goes for $1,399 and can run between 16 and 19 miles on a single charge.
Since only 3.1% of skateboards are sold in sporting goods stores, it will be interesting to see the impact — if Spectra X’s launch is successful — that this skateboard sharing service has on the industry. Just as cab companies suffered at the hands of ride sharing businesses like Uber and Lyft, the introduction of Walnut’s service and advanced electric skateboard could shift the booming industry in a completely different direction.
Regardless of Walnut’s success, it’s clear that the innovation involved in such an idea — especially considering the popularity of skateboarding in 2018 — could be the next step in ride-sharing services.