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Lime reaches 100 million rides, pulls car-sharing from Seattle

Lime Juicer redistributes electric scooters on busy road.

This week Lime announced its 100th micromobility ride since 2017, the year it was founded. 

Also this week Lime announced its removal of Limepods from Seattle, which is also where Lime is preparing to release its first fleet of electric scooters next spring. The last day to sign up for a Limepod is Oct. 14. 

In November 2018, Lime piloted Limepod, a car-sharing service only in Seattle in which 500 two-door Fiat 500s free-floated between users. You only had to scan a QR code, locate an available car, pay a dollar to unlock the car and 40 cents per mile to get to a destination. The cars easily fit two people but could squeeze in three or four. 

To uphold environmental sustainability, Lime hoped to eventually replace the Fiats with an electric fleet. With each purchased Fiat, it also purchased carbon offsets. Lime saw its fleet as another way to offset congestion and navigate a dense urban environment.

Among its competitors, Car2Go and ReachNow, Limepods were the cheaper option, but two months ago, BMW’s ReachNow also removed its fleet from Seattle. 

While car-sharing remains popular, the companies may have a hard time financially sustaining the capital-intensive service. Lime did not comment on the profitability of Limepods, but it did admit its inability to execute an electric fleet. 

“While the program was a great learning experience, at our core we are an electric mobility company first,” Lime said in an email to LimePod users on Sept. 19. “We are committed — like Seattle is — to sustainability, lower carbon emissions and to make cities more livable, all of which require reduced car travel.”

The former CEO of ReachNow, Steve Banfield, believes Lime’s shift away from car-sharing allows the company to transition into Seattle’s first electric-scooter-share pilot. To prepare for this launch, Lime has participated in a six-month due diligence process through the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT). Micromobility companies know Seattle to be an early adopter of bicycle-shares, but the city has not been as receptive to e-scooters. 

Mayor Jenny Durkan has concerns about safety issues and accessibility to low-income residents and people with disabilities, but hopes that Seattle’s delayed adoption and six-month due diligence process will offset typical scooter problems. 

The SDOT also worries that e-scooters will cause bicycling to lose popularity. 

In 2018, the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) reported 35.5 million trips on e-scooters, which doubled overall micromobility ridership from the previous year when no e-scooters existed. While bike-share rides totaled 36.5 million, one can see how the surge of e-scooter popularity poses a threat to bicycle centers like Seattle. 

E-scooters are now for rent in 100 U.S. cities. Lime alone has bicycles and e-scooters in 120 cities and 30 countries and has raised $777 million in venture capital funding. Perhaps Lime’s 100-million-rides milestone suggests a sticking factor for micromobility within global urbanization. 

Corrie White

Corrie is fascinated how the supply chain is simultaneously ubiquitous and invisible. She covers freight technology, cross-border freight and the effects of consumer behavior on the freight industry. Alongside writing about transportation, her poetry has been published widely in literary magazines. She holds degrees in English and Creative Writing from UNC Chapel Hill and UNC Greensboro.