In April 2018, a Mexican startup called Grin started operations in Mexico City by placing 15 electric scooters on the streets of the trendy neighborhoods of Roma Norte and Condesa.
The scooters, activated for use by a mobile telephone app, proved to be popular so Grin quickly increased its fleet and expanded into neighborhoods such as Nápoles, Narvarte and Del Valle.
Business for the startup’s founders, Jonathan Lewy and Sergio Romo, was good.
But on February 14, the Mexico City government dropped a bombshell: it was revoking the permit that allowed Grin to operate.
Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum told a press conference that day that the company had failed to submit information to the Secretariat of Transport (Semovi) about its operations within the timeframe requested.
Mexico City authorities subsequently removed Grin’s more than 200 scooters from the capital’s streets.
The company quickly denied that it had failed to submit the relevant paperwork on time and four days later, it struck back, filing an injunction request against the government’s revocation of its permit and removal of its scooters.
An administrative court judge sided with Grin, granting a provisional suspension that ordered the government to “abstain from dispossessing the complainant’s scooters” and “to allow it to continue offering its sustainable, individual public transportation service.”
The conflict between Grin and the government flared up again this week after the former said on Twitter that in order to be granted a permanent operational permit, Semovi is asking for “unrestricted access” to scooter users’ “personal information” including trip data “in real time.”
Directing its post to scooter users, Grin added: “Our priority is you. That’s why on February 8, we didn’t give unrestricted access about your location in real time or your personal information.”
In a statement, Semovi promptly responded that it had not asked Grin or any other company that rents scooters or bicycles to provide such information.
Mayor Sheinbaum also weighed in on the issue, telling a press conference that Grin’s claim was incorrect.
“Personal data was never requested. The transportation secretary [Andrés Lajous] would be incapable of asking for it,” she said.
“What was asked for is that the locations of bicycles and scooters be available on an [online] platform, which is the same that was asked of all the companies,” Sheinbaum added.
The mayor would not comment further on the matter because Semovi is currently seeking to overturn the injunction granted to the scooter company.
She added that her government’s aim was to have an orderly city.
On Twitter today, Grin – which is currently operating in Mexico City but without a permanent license – said that “as the only Mexican scooter company, we are more than willing to collaborate with the Mexico City government to achieve an orderly city.”
To that end, the company said it presented to Semovi on February 15 “all the information that the law doesn’t prevent us from presenting.”