Porsche & Yamaha Invest in Online Bike Retailer

It seems that hardly a week goes by without more evidence of the motor industry investing in the bicycle industry.

San Francisco California based online ebike retailer Ride Panda has just announced a fundraising round of US$3.75 million (A5 million) was led by Porsche Ventures and Yamaha Motors Ventures. Toby Sun, co-founder of ride share company Lime was another investor.

Ridepanda, which is based in San Francisco but ships to 48 U.S. states, offers a suite of light electric vehicles, from Segway-Ninebot e-scooters to Aventon e-bikes to Niu e-mopeds.

Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer Charlie Depman said e-bikes are the most popular, directly followed by scooters.

“A fifth of our customers don’t know what type of vehicle they want when they come to our site,” Depman said. “We give you a ranked set of recommendations for your use case and feature preferences, and you’ll be taken to the vehicle page where we show you more about our dealership and offer maintenance plans, roadside assistance, et cetera to make ownership easy. Basically it’s as easy as it is to own a car, but a lot of this infrastructure isn’t in place for light electric vehicle ownership.”

Vehicles are mailed directly to the customer, who can choose to assemble it or have a trained technician come to the house for home assembly.

It’s this hands-on approach that the company wants to improve with the fresh funding, specifically automating the post-purchase fulfillment process and building out after sales service in the form of its PandaCare app.

“PandaCare has been our flagship dealership offering that has all of the maintenance and roadside assistance and extended warranty,” said Depman. “So ideally this app would entail having access to all those services and being able to call a mechanic to come work on your vehicle. It could also notify you about doing preventative maintenance, or notify us about doing preventative maintenance, so we can help extend the vehicle’s lifetime.”

A longer version of this article was first published in TechCrunch.

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