Government in firing line as wheels fall off e-bike business

EVie bikes were available to hire from multiple locations, including West Park, prior to being taken out of service (37976010)

DIRECTORS of EVie have announced the “cessation” of their e-bike hire business – firing parting shots at the government for its decision not to provide support to keep them afloat.

A statement from the business’s owners said they were “no longer able to support this loss-making public service” and were “deeply saddened by the redundancies that this cessation may entail”.

Infrastructure Minister Andy Jehan revealed in the States Assembly this week that there were no plans to bail out EVie after the firm suspended its fleet of 175 electric bikes in March as a result of insurance cover being withdrawn at “unsatisfactorily abrupt notice”.

Mr Jehan said he had met EVie in February, and exchanged emails in mid-March with chief executive Nick Perchard-Rees, but had concluded that there was not a strong business case for government involvement and that there were “other demands” on the public purse.

He added that the government should not be involved in “propping up” the business – but that the Treasury Department was still open to discussions on insurance.

EVie’s latest statement revealed that the Infrastructure Minister’s response in the States Assembly was “the first time we learnt ministers’ views on our proposals”.

The statement said: “JEV Company Ltd, the owner of the EVie shared mobility business, is disappointed to announce the cessation of its dockless bike business.

“Following withdrawal of cost-effective insurance coverage for the bike business (for reasons that are related to the Jersey market and are entirely out of the control of EVie), the directors are no longer able to support this loss-making public service.

“In early March, EVie proposed a set of options to the ministers to avoid closing down the bike business.

“From Andy Jehan’s responses in the Assembly we have concluded the government has no interest in harnessing the EVie shared dockless bike scheme to support its own Carbon Neutral Roadmap, Sustainable Transport or Climate Emergency policies.”

The directors said the decision was in “direct contradiction” to the “just transition” objectives laid out in the roadmap.

The statement continued: “This U-turn may well change with the next government. It would be easier and far better value for the public to support an existing service rather than relaunch one at a later date.

“EVie will continue to grow its fleet of fully electric vans, cars and microcars to provide Islanders with affordable, flexible and sustainable transport options and we deeply regret the loss of a key component of our shared transport initiative.

“We remain committed to advancing shared, affordable electric travel solutions in the Channel Islands. Should they be interested, we remain open to discussions with the government.”

In March, Mr Perchard-Rees – who employed six people in the bike section of the business – warned that redundancies were possible.

He said the business was “doing everything it could to avoid job losses”.

Environment Minister Steve Luce said: “It is disappointing that that initiative has come to an end and hasn’t worked out quite as we’d hoped for. Looking at the statistics on the use of the bikes, it’s not been as good as anybody had hoped for, I fear.”

He added: “It’s really difficult as a government to bail out a private company, even if they are trying to help us deliver our carbon-neutral targets and those other initiatives where we are aiming to save on emissions.

“We can only hope that some time in the future, we will return to a scheme where people can hire these e-bikes for short periods of time.”

Deputy Luce said that current work was focusing more on limiting car use and encouraging bus travel.

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