Shared E-Mobility and Vandalism: E-Car Provider Spark Complains About Damaged Vehicles (updates)
We’ve heard about broken and drawn e-scooters in every city there are shared services. The trend seems to have a spillover effect on the shared e-cars market too. Spark, the first company to offer a completely electric fleet of shared vehicles, has been experiencing some troubles in Sofia the past weeks, a statement by the company says. “Only in the past five days 15 of our vehicles have been an object of terrible vandalism, theft attempts, broken windows, and even intended crashes” reads a post of the shared e-cars provider. The perpetrators – still unknown.
This, according to Spark, is the second time something similar happens to the company in Sofia and calls out to its users to send signals in case they notice any suspicious behavior around the branded e-cars.
There were three theft attempts, one car was indeed stolen, the windows of 12 vehicles were broken and the keys were stolen. According to Boyan Bakardjiev from Spark, six cars are kept by the police for further investigation, and will most probably stay there for the next three months. “This all means loss of benefits for months ahead, we still haven’t had the time to calculate of what amount,” explains Bakardjiev.
Last time, which was around the initial launch of the service in Bulgaria in 2017, there was no noise around the case, says Spark, the consequences for the company were not as big and were easy to correct. Yet, as it happens again and at a larger scale, the Lithuanian-Bulgarian company has decided to raise a voice.
“We decided to communicate publicly, because it is obviously a well-prepared and organized crime, on a large scale, which could lead to an inability to continue providing the service to our Bulgarian clients” a social media post reads.
If the numbers Spark is communicating are true, this would mean that in the past three days 7% of the 230 vehicles fleet was damaged in one or another way. Whether this could be a reason for the company to shut down services in Sofia – less likely. Furthermore, the cars are insured. Yet, depending on the damages, the company misses potential profits.
One thing here is strange. Spark is used only by registered users and has the banking and personal identification data of its users. While this might not help too much in cases like broken windows or theft attempts, the company is also talking about “intended crashes”, and crashes could hardly happen without a driver. It may be a matter of wrong wording or just misleading information.
The ecosystem support
The first reactions of the Facebook community around Spark, a service used mostly by 25-40 years old professionals, predominantly from the IT sector, as CEO Stefan Spasov, told us earlier, were claiming the Bulgarian users don’t deserve modern services. Others blamed it on the bad business environment and the taxi companies lobby that pushed Uber away two years ago. Many founders of Trending Topics network shared the post, asking others to support the e-mobility company. What exactly happened and who is responsible for the case remains to be seen.
In the meantime, Spark hopes the attacks will stop, and they will be able to continue with their growth plan. By the end of the year, another Spark cars should be on the streets of Sofia. If everything goes according to the plan, the fleet will triple in 2020.