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Ford acquires scooter startup for $100M

by Justin King

The Blue Oval views electric scooters as a perfect "last mile" solution, despite growing opposition.

Ford has acquired a San Francisco-based scooter rental company, Spin, to join a growing portfolio of 'mobility' ventures.

An Axios report suggests Ford paid $100 million for the two-year-old startup, while Reuters says the automaker plans to ultimately invest no less than $200 million in the project.

The price tags may seem absurd but Ford argues electric scooters are an ideal "first mile" and "last mile" transportation solution. Like several other startups in the same segment, Spin deploys dockless scooters that can be rented for $1 and cost 15 cents per mile to operate.

"Affordability, combined with ease of use and electrified power, also means scooters can help tackle challenges such as traffic congestion, parking availability and pollution," says Ford X vice president Sunny Madra.

The vehicles have attracted controversy since launching in San Francisco and other big cities throughout the US. The so-called Scooter Wars center around frustrated pedestrians who argue that the dockless scooters are left haphazardly scattered around the city and many of the riders zip around recklessly. Some vigilantes have reportedly fought back by tossing the scooters into the street or cutting the brake cables.

Some cities have banned scooters in response to public outrage. Ford promises Spin's fleet will only be launched in cities that have given permission, however.