By Xavier Kong

BEAM Malaysia, the company behind the electric scooter proliferation in the Golden Triangle of Kuala Lumpur, has expanded into the Bandar Utama area through its partnership with Bandar Utama City Centre Sdn Bhd, with a fleet of 30 scooters that will be a mix of its existing and latest models.

The scooters are available at four access points in Bandar Utama, PJ, which are First Avenue, 8 First Avenue, as well as the New Wing and Old Wing of 1 Utama. The company hopes to increase the number of access points by another 10 to 20 in the near future.

Ng Hui Lin (pic, right), Launcher of Beam Malaysia (the person in charge of building up Beam Malaysia), told FocusM that this is in response to feedback from their riders in KL, who have requested repeatedly for the company to expand their geofence to include Bandar Utama.

“Rider feedback is very important to us,” said Ng, adding that the company has been in operation in Bandar Utama as a trial phase for the past two weeks, and this has seen positive uptake and feedback from users.

Beam Malaysia community manager Tan Wen Dee, who parses through rider feedback and requests, said the team conducts a daily analysis of data to determine a pattern to the demand for Beam’s scooters, which allows them to deploy the scooters accordingly.

Malaysia is the Singapore-based company’s first market outside its home country. It now operates in Australia, South Korea and New Zealand, and will be starting in Taiwan soon.

In Malaysia, the company started out with only five scooters from a single location in Kuala Lumpur in January 2019, and 14 months later, it has over 70 access points and 300 scooters in Kuala Lumpur, while also expanding its coverage to Bandar Utama.

As to why Malaysia was the first stop for the company, Ng shared that “there is a lot of potential in Malaysia,” adding that the company sees a gap in the market for the scooters. It wants to provide a solution to the issue of first- and last-mile connectivity, which tends to be short range.

Beam’s users in Kuala Lumpur tend to be tourists exploring the city, as well as commuters who use the scooters as a last-mile choice to get to their destinations. Users are also incentivised to park responsibly at the access points, where they are rewarded with rebates should they do so.

The Bandar Utama fleet, however, will use a QR code unlock for the scooters, which riders will have to scan to start their rental of the scooter. Riders will also have to scan a QR code at an access point to mark the end of their trip. Riders who fail to do so will be charged a convenience fee, due to Beam Malaysia having to send someone to bring the scooter back to an access point. Rental timers are also automatically halted should there be a period of inactivity that exceeds 10 minutes.

“This is a move intended to get riders to park responsibly, which also helps the micromobility community as a whole,” shared Tan.

When posed the question of how they can ensure there are sufficient scooters to meet demands at their access points, both Ng and Tan pointed back to the data from user feedback, which establishes a pattern.

This is then communicated to the ground team, which comprises users and freelancers alike, who then check the scooters and move them to the designated points.

This represents Beam’s addition to the gig economy, where pay is offered to these “rangers” or “marshals”.

When the rangers mark that they have completed a task – be it moving a scooter to a designated point or charging station, replacing the battery, or checking the scooters for issues – they are then compensated for their time.

Of course, upon joining this ground crew, an on-boarding session that includes lessons on how to perform the tasks above is provided.

The previous model of the scooters used, still seen in the Golden Triangle, has a mostly black and grey colour scheme, while the newest Beam Saturn features a purple colour scheme with black highlights. The latest model also has a removable battery pack, thus reducing the need to bring the scooter to a charging station, which was needed on the previous model. Both models are manufactured by Segway.

The Beam Saturn has a capped top speed of 20km/h, which is to ensure riders’ safety. Otherwise, the top speed of the Saturn is actually “about 30km/h,” according to Tan, adding that, on a full battery, the Saturn has a range of 45km to 60km.

On how to prevent theft and vandalism, Ng shared that their scooters are equipped with anti-theft technology, including alarms both on the scooters and at their office, where the team is alerted should the scooters be moved while locked. The team has also been working closely with the enforcement authorities, and Ng is proud to say that cases have reduced significantly since they began operations. – March 12, 2020

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