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Flywheel | February 16, 2023
Exploring geospatial analysis for TAM assessment with Chris Hannesson of Magna and featuring the top 5 vehicles of the week
Welcome to Flywheel, a weekly exploration of the used side of owned micromobility. Each newsletter will highlight an observation of trends emerging in the industry and feature five of the most interesting used vehicles being sold in the secondary market.
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The observation of the week is Part 1 of a guest column by Chris Hannesson of Magna exploring geospatial analysis for TAM assessment. This week’s featured vehicles are two all-terrain ebikes, a cruiser, an ebike/emoped scrambler, and a daredevil’s escooter.
Observation of the Week
I’m super excited to introduce Chris Hannesson (Director of Product and Tech Investments at Magna), who will be joining as a guest columnist on Flywheel for a two part series on using geospatial data to unpack market sizes and opportunities for micromobility. Part 1 can be found below, and Part 2 will be released next week. Please welcome Chris:
Exploring Geospatial Analysis for TAM Assessment, Part 1: A guest column by Chris Hannesson of Magna
I work at Magna doing product and making investments. I have a hypothesis about tools to find and analyze opportunities and investments relating to transportation, mobility, automotive and cities. The purpose of this two-part series is to walk you through this hypothesis (part 1) and test it (part 2). Sharing it publicly hopefully helps catalyze ideas for you and enables you to build (esp with lightweight electric vehicles).
These are my opinions, and I do not speak for Magna in this article, nor is any product or business I refer to an endorsement.
Hypothesis: analysis using geospatial software is a path to information asymmetry and more accurate assessment of TAM that is unloved relative to how useful it is… for transportation problems … especially in cities … especially for lightweight electric vehicles.
Let’s break this down.
Analysis using geospatial software is a path to information asymmetry and more accurate assessment of TAM that is unloved relative to how useful it is…
To build new things which solve problems for humanity and generate both economic profits (including taking into account externalities) and free cash flow is both virtuous and necessary. In particular, reducing CO2 emissions from transportation is critical.
Nature and markets love a good competitive advantage, and information asymmetry is a well trodden path to delivering that.
Software tools exist which allow you to gather and process data over space, populations and time (~ = geospatial), including segmentation and analysis with respect to place with incredible precision. (All of the folks that do transportation planning or retail store siting are now yelling and saying duh this is old… and it is, but not everybody knows about it and I will try to add to body of knowledge...) You can also bolt a routing and optimization problem solver to this software to start doing operations simulations and making it really interesting!
A funny misused heuristic in venture is to only ask “TAM big?”. But conviction to make large investments can be unlocked by the credible and accurate estimation not just of every potential customer (ie total addressable market or TAM) but what you are able to unlock and sell to at various parts of your roadmap (ie serviceable addressable market or SAM) and why. You can define TAM/SAM in various ways with various methodologies - miles, dollars of revenue, dollars of profit, trips, etc – just be aware of the tradeoffs for each (eg short urban trips means vehicle miles travelled based TAM distorts economic potential).
… for transportation problems…
The urban mobility/transportation "stack" (a term usually used as a contortion of the OSI model of communication, to sound cool like when it’s used in a software context) goes a lot deeper than the vehicle and the software that runs on it – you need to worry about roads, cities, land use, etc.
Transportation is typically easier for bits than atoms - but you can’t eat bits, and many things need to remain as atoms. This introduces boundary conditions into our analysis and complexity to manage with software, especially if we want to run optimization analyses and build up financial models:
People and things (payloads) need to go from an origin to a destination, often more than once, and the nature of those origins and destinations can matter significantly (eg restaurant, grocery, etc.);
Travel occurs on networks (vertices/nodes/places connected by edges/links/roads);
Transportation networks do not move around very much, but do grow to support the vehicles and density of the day (ie why do post-WW2 suburbs in a typical US city look so similar, and so different from a medieval Italian town?);
Transportation networks for vehicles require space for the roads and also require storage for vehicles (“parking”);
Payloads have important attributes, like physical properties (mass and volume), economic properties (time window to arrival/delivery, preferences for Apple CarPlay, ability to build multisided marketplaces implemented in software around them, etc), and other properties; and
Transportation networks and vehicles also have physical properties that introduce material considerations (moving a vehicle through the air needs a lot of energy, road friction is important, damage to the road increases considerably as vehicle mass increases), as well as other cultural or emotional properties (how do I map my enduring love for the Lamborghini Countach onto this framework!?).
… especially in cities…
Cities add yet more boundary conditions (again, this is non-exhaustive):
Density: people, jobs, businesses, residences, etc are not distributed equally, and having density gradients of these above or below certain values can unlock or foreclose certain opportunities;
Access: location, location, location! (Proximity to cool places and the stuff you need is valuable - I encourage you to explore the topic of “access” in work by Prof. David Levinson to go deeper here);
Speeds: speed limits and congestion are a thing, and adjusting your analysis for the achievable speeds on the transportation network is critical. (FYI, on the topic of safety, kinetic energy increases significantly as vehicle speed increases); and
Land use allocation: how a population (or its representatives) decide to divide and use the land in a city impacts transportation (ie throughput of people per hour) and other aspects of city life considerably. This includes topics like zoning. Use (and the pricing and subsidization) of land for roads and parking is a spicy topic… for another article.
… especially for lightweight electric vehicles.
Lightweight electric vehicles (“LEV”) (aka micromobility) can be a great level up of traditional bicycles and I hope will be an important mode for cities globally for hundreds of years into the future. Since the release of the safety bicycle, cities have had an uh complex relationship with lightweight vehicles, just as the relationship between the automobile and the city has been very symbiotic and interesting.
This adds at least two more boundary conditions:
The need to protect LEV users on transport infrastructure designed for cars is important to increase LEV usage (safety); and
Convenience for users of LEVs, including access to vehicle parking in apartment blocks or retail spaces, access to energy safely whether charging or battery swapping, etc.
If only we had a way to simplify all of these boundary conditions and a considerable amount of data to conduct meaningful analysis to create the information asymmetries I talked about above…
Good news, we do. Next week’s Part 2 of this series will review some tools (both open source and paid) and sources of data, and then walk through a few ways to estimate TAM and identify new opportunities. The output can look something like this map below and be double clicked to give you an accurate picture of the TAM. An example and teaser for next week’s part 2 exploring consumer spending in an area (eg last mile prepared meal delivery): “You don’t need to go above 25 mph for half of the last mile delivery TAM in Chicago.”
Legend for Chicagoland area excerpt map:
Grey lines: all roads <30mph speed limit
Blue lines: >=30mph speed limit
Yellow dot: Target retail locations
Red area: trade area within 5-7km of yellow dot
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Top 5 Vehicles of the Week
The Aventon Aventure.2 is a class-2/class-3 all-terrain ebike. Launched about a month ago, the Aventure.2 is an upgrade to their best-selling Aventure. There unfortunately aren’t any improvements to the powertrain, which features a 75Nm rear geared hub motor and a 720Wh battery pack. However, there are a number of notable new features that make an upgrade worthwhile. The motor controller now uses a torque sensor to provide a more intuitive and real-time pedal assistance, and the new model comes standard with an integrated rear rack and turn signals that are directly embedded into the frame on either side of the rear-wheel. I personally love the trend of budget brands like Aventon releasing bikes with many built-in accessories that are often expensive add-ons on higher-end brands. It makes these brands such an accessible, no-brainer choice for customers new to micromobility because it doesn’t require them to imagine or have previous knowledge about how they could customize an ebike to get the most utility out of it. This listing is being sold by an Aventon-focused lifestyle journalist and has only been lightly ridden (<20 miles) for the purposes of writing a review. Listing can be found here.
The Electra Vale Go! 9D EQ is an agile class-1 cruiser. With a unique geometry that combines a step-thru frame with the stiffness of a step-over frame, the Vale Go! eliminates the frame flex that a lot of step-thru ebikes have while maintaining the approachability and comfort step-thrus are designed for. The powertrain features a 50Nm Bosch Active Line Plus mid-drive motor and a 500Wh Bosch Powertube battery pack. Electra is one of the most popular cruiser brands in the market because of its excellent quality and easy maintainability. Electra is a subsidiary of Trek, which gives Electra riders access to the servicing network of one of the “big 3” bike brands. If you were considering buying a new Vale Go!, it would be worthwhile to spend an extra $200 to buy the 9D EQ S because of its higher performance Bosch Performance Line powertrain (75Nm). However, this listing for a 9D EQ with a usage of only 222mi that’s selling for roughly half of the MSRP is a great economical option. Listing can be found here.
The Serial 1 BASH/MTN is legendary motorcycle brand Harley Davidson’s first mountain ebike. Harley’s venture into ebikes has largely been city-focused, so the BASH/MTN is a long anticipated model that builds upon the high-quality and high-performance RUSH/CTY and MOSH/CTY commuters. The BASH/MTN is a class-1 ebike, and its powertrain features a 90Nm Brose S Mag mid-drive motor, a Serial 1 designed custom 529Wh battery pack, and a Gates Carbon Belt Drive. Surprisingly, the BASH/MTN is extremely rigid and essentially has no suspension, bar a small suspension seat post. While stiffness is a deal-breaker for most mountain bikers, it’s a feature expert mountain bikers have come to appreciate because it provides, as per Serial 1 brand director Aaron Frank, “the most direct connection between you and the trail.” This model is also compatible with Serial 1’s recently revamped app, which integrates with Google Cloud to enable features such as anti-theft, Google Maps navigation, and automated service reminders. The BASH/MTN is a special production, limited-edition run of vehicles, and Serial 1 has only produced 1050 vehicles of this model. This listing for an unboxed BASH/MTN selling for ~$400 less than MSRP is a rare find and a steal. Listing can be found here.
The Kaabo Wolf King GT is an ultra high-performance escooter. With a top speed of 63mph and a range of 55mi, the Wolf King GT is the fastest production scooter in the world and has the 2nd longest range (as tested by ESG). Apart from racing scooters, there’s no other escooters in the market that combine this level of performance, componentry, and build quality. Its powertrain features two 2000W hub motors and a ~2500Wh battery pack. Wrangling these powerful motors are sine-wave motor controllers, which provide an extremely fluid and responsive acceleration (vs. more jerky square-wave controllers). Many reviewers claim that the Wolf King GT is the most stable escooter they’ve ever ridden, primarily due to the two front stems, dual suspension, and puncture proof pneumatic tires. While these components do make the Wolf King GT very heavy (125lbs), they provide a body and heft that’s required for these types of speeds. The Wolf King GT is certainly not for the faint of heart. As the seller of this listing puts it, “OK WHAT WAS I THINKING, IT IS SO FAST.” However, this listing for a barely ridden Wolf King GT (<50mi) is an exciting option to push the limits of what you can do with an escooter. Listing can be found here.
The Ristretto 303FS is a hybrid scrambler with a vintage Italian motorcycle aesthetic. This vehicle blurs the lines between an ebike and an emoped. While it has street legal modes that limit the speed and throttle operations as per class-2 or class-3 regulations, its Race Mode allows riders to go as fast as 40mph. Powering these whopping speeds is a 2600W (~150Nm) mid-drive motor from CYC (well known for their high-performance ebike/emoped hydrid powertrains) and an 1100Wh battery pack. The mid-drive is a particularly unique feature rarely found on scramblers that typically use hub motors. The sturdy frame weighs a heavy 84lbs, but can carry a payload of 325lbs and has a front fork and rear shock suspension system to soften the ride and swallow up bumps and pot holes. This model is a limited edition vehicle that has been sold out since mid-2022, making this listing for a new, unopened 303FS another rare find. Listing can be found here.
That’s it for this edition. Thanks again for joining, see you next week!
- Puneeth Meruva
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