EVie: ‘We are doing everything we can to avoid job losses‘

EVie bikes were available to hire from multiple locations, including West Park, before being taken out of service at the weekend. (37615449)

THE suspension of the Island’s 175 rental e-bikes due to insurance difficulties has prompted fears of job losses and calls for government action.

EVie’s fleet of bikes was pulled from service over the weekend after the company was given ten working days’ notice by its insurance provider about the withdrawal of cover.

Chief executive Nick Perchard-Rees said the company hoped to restart its operations in the coming weeks.

However, Mr Perchard-Rees – who employs six people in the bike section of the business – warned that job losses were possible in future if it could not meet this aim.

“There are some people within the organisation who are worried about their positions,” he said. “We are trying to make them feel at ease and doing everything we can to avoid job losses.”

The chief executive also said he feared there could be ramifications for other businesses.

“This highlights a critical area for governmental action,” he said. “The withdrawal of insurers, prompted by post-Brexit regulatory changes and disproportionate fees, underscores the need for supportive measures for businesses facing similar predicaments.

“We urge newly appointed ministers and regulatory bodies to address these concerns, which affect not only EVie but the wider business community and, ultimately, the residents and businesses of our islands.”

Carl Walker, chairman of the Jersey Consumer Council, said: “It’s time for the government to take this seriously before the situation gets worse.

“We rarely – if ever – received any calls about problems with insurance before last summer, but now we are getting two or three enquiries every week.”

Deputy Elaine Millar, an assistant minister with responsibility for financial services, said: “We recognise that many Islanders will be disappointed that the Evie bikes have been withdrawn from use.

“We are confident that there remains a competitive insurance market and hope that it will be possible for the bikes to be reintroduced in the near future.”

Several Islanders have reported large jumps in their insurance premiums recently, with brokers warning that firms were effectively “withdrawing” from Jersey by pricing themselves out of the market.

Concerns are also being monitored by the competition watchdog, the JCRA, which has said it would consider undertaking a market study if necessary.

In September, it emerged that several motor insurers – including Admiral – would no longer be able to provide policies to Channel Islands customers following legislative changes in Gibraltar following Brexit.

Around half of the EVie fleet of 175 bikes were collected over the weekend and taken into storage, with the remainder having been out of service for the winter.

Mr Perchard-Rees said that the company had hoped to be able to secure alternative public liability cover as late as Friday, but that this had not been successful.

He added that the firm had been heartened by the support shown by Islanders.

He also addressed the possibility of raising prices if a new insurance provider was found.

“We’ve had that conversation and feel very strongly that we are an integral part of the transport network and need to be helping people to continue being able to move around, so higher prices are certainly not on our agenda,” he added.

EVie started its Jersey operations in March 2020, and also operated over the summer months in Guernsey in 2021 and 2022 before withdrawing as a result of infrastructure difficulties.

The company also runs a business hiring electric vehicles in Jersey, which has not been affected by the current insurance issues and is operating as normal.

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