California is the source of the micro-mobility revolution. Know the best cities of California and its laws to build an e-scooter app in California and start an e-scooter sharing business

build e-scooter app in California

E-scooter app is the global trend. But the reason why it has become a global trend is its initial success in major cities of California such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego. And because of this, it is totally safe to say that California is the source of the micro-mobility revolution and it is still leading the global micro-mobility market. 

The micro-mobility market of California is so commercially successful that all California-based micro-mobility startups have bagged a whopping amount of funds and some startups like Bird and Lime have earned the unicorn status. 

Though many micro-mobility startups have already been dominating the micro-mobility market of major cities of California, many other cities of California remain untouched by top players and so, you can easily maneuver there. And if you are planning to start e-scooter sharing business in major cities of California such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego, you should not be afraid of the big players as people of these major cities have adapted the e-scooter cultural so well that even 6+ e-scooter apps in these cities cannot do justice with the high demand. 

Meaning, you can easily conquer the micro-mobility market of California by paying heed to some of the crucial factors which define the future of a micro-mobility startup. And by good fortune, we are going to discuss those crucial factors into this blog. 

Which are the top e-scooter apps in major cities of California?

The US micro-mobility market is anticipated to reach somewhere between $200 billion to $300 billion by 2030 and California will contribute heavily. There are many reasons behind the monstrous micro-mobility market of California, but clear regulations, eco-friendly people, e-scooter friendly infrastructure,  local investors and the world’s most refined startup-ecosystem are some of the major ones. 

Bird which is valued over $2.5 billion first launched its e-scooter rental service in a coastal city west of downtown Los Angeles – Santa Monica – in September 2017. The market of Santa-Monica worked so well for the Bird that Bird has raised $15 million in its first-ever funding round and expanded its business in many other cities. Major investors like Accel, CRV, Greycroft, Index Ventures, Upfront Ventures, Craft Ventures, and Tusk Ventures are investing in Bird.  

Another California-based micro-mobility startup named Lime has also tasted massive success. In June 2017, Lime dropped its 500 bicycles at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and soon expanded to many cities of California as well as Seattle, Washington. As of now, Lime is operating its business in 8 profitable markets of California. This includes cities like Culver City, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Oakland, San Diego, San Jose, Santa Monica, and So. Lake Tahoe. Alphabet, Coatue, Fifth Wall, GGV Capital, Singapore’s GIC, GSV Capital, FJ Labs, Bling Capital, GR Capital, and St.Augustine Partners are the major investors investing in Lime. 

To know more about the Lime and develop a clone of it in California, you can read our dedicated blog.  

Lyft, Spin, Jump, Sherpa, and Bolt are also deriving many benefits from the micro-mobility market of California. Talking about Spin, it runs its e-scooter sharing business in Long Beach, Jump in Sacramento, San Francisco, Santa Monica, San Diego & Santa Cruz, and Lyft in Los Angeles, Oakland, San Diego, San Jose, and Santa Monica. 

So, now when you know the top e-scooter apps dominating the micro-mobility market of California, let’s quickly list out the cities of California where your micro-mobility business can easily be profitable.  

Top cities of California where it is a safe bet to start e scooter sharing business with our e-scooter app 

California is one of the largest states in the USA. This western U.S state which stretches from the Mexican border along the Pacific for nearly 900 miles has many tier 1 and tier 2 cities. Tier 1 cities like Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Jose are the overly intensified market when it comes to e-scooter apps. 

And tier 2 cities like Fresno, Sacramento, Long Beach, Oakland, Bakersfield, Anaheim, Santa Ana are hosting fewer e-scooter apps. It is also easy to get the permit in these tier 2 cities. 

However, a decision whether you should opt for tier 1 city or tier 2 city purely depends on the scale of your startup. If you’re a medium-large scale startup with enough initial fund, you can build an e-scooter app for tier 1 cities and if you’re a small-scale startup, it is advisable to build an e-scooter app for tier 2 cities. 

As discussed, a newbie micro-mobility startup with a feature-packed app and aggressive marketing campaign can also perform well in tier 1 cities amid the high adoption rate of e-scooter apps. 

But for a small scale startup, it is not at all a workable business strategy to launch the e-scooter app in tier 1 cities and compete with the big players like Bird and Lime. This type of startups can initially launch its e-scooter sharing business in tier 2 cities or in university campuses. In fact, the University campus is the best business terrain if a small-scale startup wants to launch the e-scooter app without spending huge. It eliminates the requirements of government permits, large fleet, and futuristic app features.

Top universities in California include Berkeley, Irvine, San Diego, Los Angeles, and Santa Cruz campuses of the University of California, Malibu campus of Pepperdine University, Stanford University, and the University of San Francisco. 

Here, it’s worth mentioning that a micro-mobility startup should consider government laws to get the permit and to avoid falling into legal battle no matter where they want to start an e-scooter sharing business. So, now let’s quickly study the e-scooter laws in California. 

E-scooter sharing business related laws in California 

Following are the top e-scooter laws in Los Angeles and San Francisco every micro-mobility startup should obey. (If you are planning to build the e-scooter app in other cities of California, don’t worry! Our Business Experts will make you familiar with the e-scooter laws of those cities and help you to get the permit.) 

E-scooter laws in Los Angeles 

  • Permit Application Fee of $5,000 
  • Conditional Permit vehicle fee of $32.50/vehicle (non-refundable) 
  • Maximum fleet size: 3000
  • Proof of general commercial liability insurance with a minimum liability limit of $5,000,000 and that lists the “City of Los Angeles, its officers, agents and employees” as Primary additional insureds.
  • Proof of automobile insurance with limits of liability not less than One Million Dollars ($1,000,000) and that lists the “City of Los Angeles, its officers, agents and employees” as Primary additional insureds.
  • The operator shall not display third-party advertising on its Vehicles.
  • All Operators shall provide a mechanism for customers to notify the Operator when there is a safety or maintenance issue with the Vehicle.
  • Between the hours of 7 am and 10 pm daily, Operators shall remedy inoperable or improperly parked vehicles within two hours.
  • All Operators shall have a performance bond of $80/Vehicle.
  • Operators shall remove electric scooters from the public right-of-way on a daily basis.

E-scooter laws in San Francisco 

  • A non-refundable permit application fee of $5,000, due at the time of application.
  • A separate annual permit fee of $25,000 due at the time of permit issuance to recover costs associated with administering the Pilot Shared Powered Scooter Program.
  • A public property repair and maintenance endowment totaling ten thousand dollars ($10,000) due at the time of permit issuance. 
  • Operator Should demonstrate an understanding of operational needs and resource requirements to ensure service reliability.
  • The outreach approach should include strategies to ensure that low-income residents are aware of service and how to participate.
  • The operator should exhibit strategies to ensure properly parked scooters. 
  • The operator should exhibit strategies to educate and train users. 

After reading the application fee and insurance requirements to get the permit, you must be wondering how much money you will require to start an e-scooter sharing business in California. 

The initial capital you will require to start e-scooter sharing business in California 

To calculate the initial capital a micro-mobility startup should have to start an e-scooter sharing business in California, we have to take major resources into account. But since permit fees and insurance requirements are different in all cities of California, we are not adding it in the calculation. 

The following are the major resources needed to run an e-scooter sharing business. 

» E-scooter hardware: You will need a fleet of e-scooters. An e-scooter with an advanced IoT controller costs around $600. You can also buy an e-scooter without an IoT controller and install the IoT controller separately to save a few bucks. 

» Staff to maintain the fleet of e-scooters: E-scooter cries for regular maintenance and thus, you need to hire engineers who take somewhere between $25 to $45 for an hour. 

» Customer service:   You need to create many teams of the Customer Service Executives who are responsible for solving the queries of the users. They charge somewhere between $15 to $40 for an hour. Here, you can save a lot of money if you integrate a chatbot in the app. 

» An army to keep batteries of the e-scooters charged: You need to pay a handsome sum of salary to the people who keep batteries of e-scooters charged. Here, you can opt for the on-demand model and pay gig-workers per job.    

And, of course, an e-scooter app! 

How much does it cost to build an e-scooter app in California? 

Coruscate is the top e-scooter app development company that has developed 10 e-scooter apps for different markets. 

We accommodate well-schooled and well-versed 100+ App Developers, App Designers, IoT Engineers, Business Experts and Legal Advisers who all work together to make your business journey painless.


Our Business Experts help micro-mobility startups to decide on the business models, draft the business plan and study the market. Whereas, our Legal Advisers help micro-mobility startups to get the permit. 

The cost to build an e-scooter app relies on the e-scooter app development approach you choose. 

  • To develop a custom e-scooter app with all custom features, we charge somewhere between $15K to $25K. 
  • The price to develop a clone e-scooter app of some popular e-scooter apps starts from $10K. 
  • And our subscription plan for the white label e-scooter app starts from just $500. 

To know more about our cost structures and get a personalized quote, feel free to contact us. Our one of the senior Business Experts will welcome you with the free e-scooter app demo and free consultation.

Let’s build your own app

Related Blog