Velobility founder Philip Douglas returns with SwissFleet launch

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Philip Douglas has launched what it calls “the link between the cycle industry and mobility and logistics providers” with the debut of SwissFleet.

Offering both hardware and services, the former Velobility CEO and a handful of partners have created a business able to offer specially developed cycle concepts, modular bikes configurable as non-motorised or electric assist, cargo cycles and special purpose bikes.

Late in 2015, Velobility encountered business disruption as a result of the stagnant Swiss economy and it had to register as insolvent. Now, having finalised acquiring the market rights and patents of Velobility AG, Douglas intends to kick off a new attempt to capture this future-oriented market at an international level with fresh ideas.

A close production partnership with Fairly Bike Manufacturing Company Ltd., one of the oldest of Taiwan’s cycle manufacturers, is one of the key guarantors of the success of this re-launch.

Douglas explains: “Velobility AG was the business construct intended to implement my vision for the development of the bike sharing market. I aimed to use innovative ideas and products to build bridges between the needs of users, the cycle industry, system operators and the political world. I absolutely wanted to bring my experience from the first bike sharing pilot projects into sustainable products, and so to help advance this fantastic market.”

Globally, the public hire sector is said to operate in over 1,000 cities worldwide, with an estimated 1.3 million bikes available to rent.

Further growth is expected from the privately-organised company fleet market. Already several logistics companies such as DHL, Fedex, GO! and UPS are increasingly relying on (cargo) bikes as a cost-effective and quick alternative for the so-called “last mile”: the most expensive and difficult distribution leg in the entire delivery network.

Douglas continues: “Our society wants and needs new mobility solutions, but the technology to achieve this has only appeared in the last few years. Yet the major cycle manufacturers still do not offer any real solutions for bike sharing systems, and have not advanced the sophistication of public hire systems. Instead they have always focused on end user solutions, driven by their history. This is the gap which we can fill with our know-how, our manufacturing resources in Taiwan, and our perfectly designed solutions for every infrastructure requirement. We are already engaged in our first tenders, and some of our products will be available for visitors from around the world to view and test at the upcoming Eurobike show.”

SwissFleet Services GmbH will also continue with the maintenance of 4,100 Swiss military cycles. In 2012 Douglas won the WTO tendering process for the supply and maintenance of these military bikes with Simpel GmbH, and implemented it through the then newly-formed Velobility AG.

Simpel GmbH, also founded by Douglas in the year 2000, is not affected by these developments.

Ever considered the worth of bike sharing to your High Street? Studies have found retail takings can be boosted by cycle hire on your doorstep.