The great micromobility wars of 2018 are heating up. Lime, which has scooters and bikes on the ground in 70 cities, is getting a “sizable investment” from ride-hailing empire Uber, which will now offer Lime scooter rental through its app.
In a blog post announcing Uber as a “strategic partner,” Lime’s co-founders Toby Sun and Brad Bao say that Uber will begin integrating Lime’s services into its app immediately to help people make more multimodal trips. Lime will also co-brand its scooters to feature the Uber logo.
“As electric scooters grow in popularity and become a more beloved way to travel short distances, the partnership adds to Uber’s vision of becoming a transportation platform for people around the globe,” reads the statement from Lime.
The move is the latest in Uber’s recent strategy to expand beyond its traditional ride-hailing offerings. In May, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi told Recode’s Kara Swisher that he wanted Uber to become the “Amazon” of transportation, offering access to a slew of third-party vendors through its app.
“Our investment and partnership in Lime is another step towards our vision of becoming a one-stop shop for all your transportation needs,” says Rachel Holt, vice president and head of new modalities at Uber. “Lime already has an expansive footprint, and we’re excited to incorporate their scooters into the Uber app so consumers have another fast, affordable option to get around their city, especially to and from public transit.”
In April, Uber gave a similar explanation for acquiring the bike-share company Jump, which offers electric bikes and pedal bikes known as “smart bikes”—both of which don’t require docking stations but must be locked to racks or other infrastructure. This would be Uber’s first foray into scooters, although Holt told Bloomberg that this doesn’t mean Uber won’t go into the scooter business itself.
Lime has provided six million rides across its 70-city network of electric scooters, electric pedal-assist bikes, and pedal bikes. Scooters are currently being piloted in a handful of cities including Washington D.C., Austin, and San Diego. It was rumored last month that Lime was eliminating pedal bike offerings but a Lime spokesperson confirmed to Curbed that Lime will continue to offer both electric and pedal bikes. Lime also recently made a foray into European markets by deploying scooters in Paris.
Just a few weeks ago, Bird, a rival scooter company, was valued at $2 billion after multiple rounds of funding. And just last week, Uber’s rival Lyft bought Motivate, the country’s leading bike-share operator. Lyft plans to brand its own bike-share system as Lyft Bikes.
Part of Lime’s strategy has been to provide customized mobility options for disadvantaged communities to help fill gaps in transit access. Lime was the first of the micromobility companies to give access to riders without smartphones and credit cards and has worked closely with groups including the U.S. military and college campuses. As Thomas Lord, Lime’s general manager for LA, told Curbed: “We think it’s important to custom-design our dock-free program in a way that can accommodate their differences.”
“At its core, Lime isn’t a story about bikes or scooters or even smart mobility,” reads today’s blog post by Sun and Bao. “Rather, it’s a story about movement.” Indeed, it’s a story that keeps getting bigger and bigger every week.