San Francisco / California / USA
Market leading Lime is getting back to its roots. The scooter company formerly known as LimeBike announced in late February 2021 that it will invest US$50 million (A$64 million) to grow its shared electric bicycle network, including adding a new model of bike and doubling the number of cities in which it operates.
Lime got its start with shared bikes, only to quickly pivot after Bird first introduced the concept of dockless electric scooters in 2017. The company dropped the ‘bike’ from its name and started phasing out its bikes in 2019. But the following year, Lime acquired bike-share company Jump from Uber, and suddenly, bikes were back on the menu.
Lime plans to launch in ‘a dozen’ new cities in North America by the end of 2021, as well as dozens more in Europe and other markets. In total, the company plans to have its bikes in 50 new cities by the start of 2022, roughly quadrupling its fleet size.
The $64 million investment will largely go toward designing, manufacturing, and assembling its next-generation bike, which will start rolling out mid-2021. The new model will come with a more powerful 350-watt motor (which will have to be powered down to 250 watts meet Australian regulations) and a swappable battery capable of up to 40 kilometres of range.
The battery is also interchangeable with the ones that power Lime’s Gen4 electric scooters, allowing for a standardised battery charging operation and an integrated, electronically controlled hub lock will help keep the bike safe from theft and vandalism.
Lime will keep its cherry-red Jump bikes (currently operating in three Australian cities) in operation, with no plans to phase those out in favour of the new Lime-branded e-bikes. The company has stated that it wants to be a multimodal provider of many different types of low-speed, electric vehicles. Last year, Lime added pedal-less e-bikes from Wheels to its app in several cities as part of a new effort to integrate third-party micromobility providers. And recently, it announced plans to introduce electric mopeds in Paris and Washington, DC.
Lime says its customers took more than 2.5 million rides on its e-bikes in 2021, with the company expecting that number to grow significantly in 2021.
Meanwhile, micromobility.io is reporting that Lime is in talks with investment bank Evercore as it explores going public. Lime has already raised hundreds of millions in funding since it was founded in January 2017 but a public listing could potentially raise significantly more.
Lime has ridden a bumpy road since its founding. In April 2019 it had an implied market capitalisation of US$2.4 billion (A$3 billion) but it announced in October 2019 that expected to lose US$300 million (A$384 million) for the 2019 US financial year.
In January 2020 it laid off about 100 employees, representing approximately 14% of its total workforce. When covid hit it suspended its service in nearly two dozen countries.
In May 2020 it struck a ‘life saving’ deal with Uber acquiring Uber’s Jump ebike and scooter business plus a US$170 million (A$202 million) funding round which valued Lime at a ‘mere’ US$510 million (A$653 million) a drop of 79% from its early 2019 high.
Most of this article first was published in The Verge (USA) with further information from Wikipedia.