Lime invests $50m in e-bike hardware, plans to double cities it operates in

By Robert Scammell

Micromobility company Lime has announced plans to invest $50m into new e-bike hardware and to double the number of cities in which it operates around the world.

The San Francisco, California, company said it will direct most of the capital into scaling its latest e-bike in Europe.

The company operates a network of shared e-bikes and e-scooters across the US, Europe, Asia, the Middle East and South America. Riders unlock the electric vehicle via the Lime app and rent it by the minute.

Most of the investment will be directed to Europe in new cities across countries such as France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK.

In total it plans to expand its e-bike service to 15 new European cities throughout 2021.

The latest Lime e-bike is powered by swappable batteries that are interchangeable with its newest e-scooter, the Gen4. Lime says this will allow it to streamline operations by reducing the frequency of charging and rebalancing vehicles.

Founded in 2017, Lime is one of many startups offering short to medium distance forms of electric transport, competing against the likes of Bird, Voi and Tier.

Rental e-scooters and e-bikes are seen as an environmentally friendly mode of transport that can help decongest city roads.

However, concerns have been raised about street clutter and the risk the electric vehicles could pose to pedestrians and those with disabilities – something e-scooter firms have been eager to address.

Lime said it notched up nearly two million rides on its e-bikes last year, a figure it expects to grow in 2021 as vaccination rollouts help lift lockdown measures.

“As we build out the Lime platform to serve any urban trip, e-bikes are a key piece of the puzzle as a perfect option for medium-length trips,” said Ghassan Haddad, head of European affairs for Lime.

“It’s why based on the feedback we heard from cities, we’re making substantial investments to upgrade our world-class e-bike and bring it to more European metropolis, providing riders a new and exciting way to leave their cars behind.

“Shared micromobility is playing an essential role in getting cities moving again safely so we see this as a critical moment to double down on e-bikes as an open-air, socially-distanced transportation option.”

In November 2020 Lime reported its first full quarter of profitability. The company has raised more than $775m in venture capital from investors such as Alphabet, Andreessen Horowitz and BMW iVentures. As of May 2020, Lime was valued at $510m having plummeted by 79% from a peak of $2.4bn in February 2019.

It is one of a handful of companies currently taking part in the UK’s rental e-scooter trials and currently operates a network in Milton Keynes

In July 2020 Lime relaunched Jump’s e-bikes in London after acquiring the struggling brand from ride-hailing app Uber.

Read more: Tier wants riders to swap e-scooter batteries – and it makes perfect sense