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This post is also available in: Español (Spanish)

Grin says “hasta luego” to Mexico City

This post is also available in: Español (Spanish)


Contxto – Grin has experienced plenty of ups and downs ever since its start in 2018. For instance, some highs include merging with Yellow to create Grow and expanding to Argentina.

All the while, bureaucratic issues with Mexican transportation authorities, Semovi, has thrown the micro-mobility startup for a few curveballs in Mexico City, making this past year all the more eventful. 

In light of both the good, the bad and the ugly, now Grin has announced plans to officially vacate the city altogether, at least for the time being. Despite paying the designated fees to Semovi, unlike Lime and Mobike, maybe Grin has ultimately decided to forge its own path.

Say what? 

After accumulating over 1.5 million kilometers throughout Mexico City with its e-scooters, the micro-mobility startup has officially decided to withdraw its units. Grin will supposedly return after fine-tuning some of its operations at some undisclosed point in time.

One of the core problems according to a recent company press release was property theft.

“Today, scooter theft in Mexico City represents a big challenge for operations,” said Santiago Jimenez, country manager of Grin Mexico. 

Despite some surely perturbed customers, this downtime may bring some improvements to the enterprise, though. From the sounds of Jimenez, there may even be a new product in the works. 

During this intermission that may seem annoying, hundreds of people at Grin Mexico will make adjustments to improve the service, change systems, add a new micro-mobility solution to the Grin family but especially to develop collaboration schemes with the Mexico City authorities to prevent scooter theft.

Never a dull moment

Obstacles began earlier this year when Grin was part of a 45-day pilot program along with 10 other micro-mobility startups. Together, they received temporary operating permits from Semovi to test the waters in Mexico’s capital. 

Things eventually got a little sticky. For example, the agency forced Grin to temporarily withdraw its units from Mexico City for allegedly not providing proper documentation before a deadline.

There were also reportedly discrepancies with individual vehicle insurance policies and Grin not handling customer service inquiries appropriately.

All the while, Grin accused the governmental body of revoking its permit before the actual deadline for permit operation renewal. Viewers got to see the back and forth bickering over Twitter with Grin claiming that it complied with the law.

Moreover, Grin accused the government of requesting private information about its users. According to Semovi, though, it was only asking for age and gender of riders. Other topics pertained to vehicle information, trip trajectory, as well as rental durations.

Thoughts

For Grin to completely leave Mexico City altogether is a little perplexing, especially if it has paid its dues. I was under the impression that it was in it for the long-haul.

While Grin says that theft was one of the most critical issues facing the company, I have a feeling that, though a severe factor, this is a wider issue with bigger implications. 

Since I still have plenty of questions, I will update the article as soon as I hear back from the Grin team. I am especially curious to know when exactly the company will commence operations in Mexico City, if ever.

-JA

Jacob Atkins
Jacob Atkins is a journalist specializing in Latin America. He studied journalism and international relations at American University in Washington, D.C. and has previously reported from Chile, Ecuador, Haiti and Mexico. When he isn't writing he's most likely hiking or drawing.

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