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E-scooter Giant Lime to Launch EV Rental Service

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【Summary】The startup is expected to expand its offerings to include compact EVs in one or two locations by the end of Q4 2018.

Michael Cheng    Nov 15, 2018 6:00 AM PT
E-scooter Giant Lime to Launch EV Rental Service
author: Michael Cheng   

E-scooter startups have experienced rapid growth in the past two years. With the industry starting to get crowded, due to new participants and increased availability of e-bikes, some startups are looking to expand their services to serve other transportation-related niches.

Lime, a transportation rental company that specializes in dockless e-scooters and e-bikes, recently announced it will add EVs to its product line. To clarify, the Andreessen Horowitz-backed startup will not be producing EVs from scratch. Instead, it will offer the units for rent in major cities across the US.

From E-scooters to EVs

The startup is expected to expand its offerings to include compact EVs in one or two locations by the end of Q4 2018. Hints that Lime was busy shuffling its business model initially started when it removed the word ‘bike' from its name earlier this year. Following the update, the startup released a fleet of Segway scooters.

"[We're not] here to build companies for a year or two. It's about building a platform. Lime is going into electric cars and diversifying. Our long-term view is over many form factors and vehicle types," said Caen Contee, Lime Co-founder and VP of Marketing, at the annual Web Summit tech event in Lisbon, Portugal.

Lime's ambitions to become an all-encompassing transportation provider will start in Seattle, Washington. The startup is in the process of finalizing a pilot program consisting of 500 micro EVs – Fiat 500e and Renault Twizy vehicles. Like its existing services, the EVs will be offered via a similar rental scheme.

The Renault Twizy is capable of covering 62 miles per full charge, with a top speed of 50 mph. The ability to rent a Twizy is unique, as the foreign EV is not sold in the US.

Breaking Ground in Seattle

The company plans to include compact EVs to its current menu of offerings in Seattle. According to the Seattle Department of Transportation, it has already applied for a car-sharing permit, making such commitments official. A report published by Axios suggests rental rates to start at $1, with additional charges at 40 cents per minute. Lime could also be expanding to food delivery services in the local area.

The startup has been operating in Seattle for quite some time. From a compliance perspective, Lime was one of the first businesses to apply for a bike-sharing permit, when the city rolled out guidelines. This likely contributed to the issuance of the company's car-sharing license.

"We are here to serve and in service we're ultimately pro-regulation — we want to figure this out," explained Contee.

"What's going to win is a platform for innovation…creating trust, and the best service, enabling yourself to always innovate."

Lime launched operations in 2017 and is considered to be one of the fastest startups to reach ‘unicorn' status, with a whopping $1.1 billion valuation. Such achievement is impressive, considering the business crossed its milestones in the e-scooter sector. Lime is competing against Bird, which is currently valued at $2 billion (as of October 8, 2018).

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