Unagi Launches LA E-Scooter Subscription in Bird's Backyard

Unagi Launches LA E-Scooter Subscription in Bird's Backyard

Betting city dwellers will not want to risk taking public transportation in the age of COViD-19 or touch a shared e-scooter, Unagi announced Wednesday it will launch a $39 a month subscription service in New York and Los Angeles.

"L.A. is the electric scooter epicenter of the world and it was always our number one target," Unagi co-founder and CEO David Hyman told dot.LA. "Nowhere else have I walked where I couldn't take two steps without tripping over a scooter."

L.A. became the e-scooter capital after Bird was founded in 2017 in Santa Monica and quickly grew into the fastest-growing tech startup in history. Bird, too, also offers monthly rentals, but it is a very small part of its business and is only available in San Francisco, Miami, Washington D.C., and select college campuses.

Until now, Unagi, which Hyman started in Oakland in 2018 with Kickstarter founding, has sold its stylish e-scooters for $990. But Hyman acknowledged that a lot of riders don't want to shell out a thousand dollars to buy one of their own. The company was planning to add a subscription option — Hyman is not a fan of the term rental — before COVID, but the pandemic accelerated those plans. (Unagi means freshwater eel in Japanese.)

"This model helps us bring it to a larger audience," said Hyman. "Millennials prefer access over ownership."

The company has drawn favorable comparisons; it's been called the Apple of e-scooters and says it aims to build a Tesla-quality e-scooter that feels like riding a magic carpet.

The new offering, Unagi All-Access, includes maintenance and insurance for scooter theft or damage for $39 a month — which the company points out is less than half the cost of a 30-day Metro pass — or $34 for one year commitment. There is also a onetime $50 set-up fee.

Once someone subscribes, the company delivers a fully-assembled Model One scooter to their door within 24 hours. If the scooter ever does not work properly, users will receive a replacement within 24 hours.

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