When we launched our community share offer in February, we had no idea of the disruption that would follow a little over a month later. Covid-19 has turned the world upside down. How we work, socialise, shop and travel have all radically changed. And whatever the ‘new normal’ turns out to be, we’ll be living with many of these changes for a long time to come.
Amazingly, despite these difficult and unsettling times, our share offer has continued to attract investors and is now a shade under £200,000, a third of our £600,000 target. To me, this demonstrates there is a huge interest in what we do but, understandably, many investors are currently preoccupied with more pressing priorities.
We have therefore decided to extend the offer period to 31 July 2020 because, as the impact of Covid-19 continues to reverberate, our vision of a shared, electric and zero carbon future will be more relevant than ever.
No matter what the future holds, people will still need to move. However, there will be an understandable reluctance to return to crowded public transport. An obvious conclusion is that this, combined with historically low petrol prices, will lead to increased use of private cars. But this will be tempered by a recession and the need to economise – for example, by replacing a rarely used second car with a car club membership.
Evidence also suggests that air pollution is a contributor to Covid-19 deaths, therefore we could see a strong public health requirement to continue to minimise car usage. Furthermore, the UK’s journey towards net zero carbon and adoption of electric cars continues unabated. For many, particularly now, access to this new technology will remain out of reach unless through a network such as ours.
More and more people are also choosing to walk and cycle with local authorities keen to lock in this behaviour by reprioritising roads in favour of active travel. Indeed, we are seeing this through an increased demand for our Co Bikes. Initially offered for free to key workers, we are now trialling running a limited network and are also planning new locations in anticipation of an increased demand. On the back of this demand, we are now starting to look at how, when and where we reintroduce our cars as we exit lockdown.
I’m also seeing no slowdown in enquiries from developers, local authorities and other organisations and, consequently, our new business pipeline remains strong. This is because we what we do is innovative, equitable and collaborative. Our strategy is much more than simply adding cars and bikes to our network. It focusses on supporting city transformation and product innovation with our services tailored to meet our stakeholders requirements.
In conclusion, despite the many unprecedented challenges that we all face, we know what we do will be of vital importance as we all adjust to living and working alongside Covid-19. Our shared mobility services will help support the challenges of social distancing, financial constraints caused by recession, the move to homeworking, the growth of active travel and the need to transform our towns and cities in line with net zero carbon goals.