Lime announced Monday that it plans to invest $50 million to expand its shared electric bike service as the pandemic continues to fuel a biking boom.
The firm started out in 2017 as a bike-sharing service before transitioning to focus on the electric scooters it's most known for today. But Lime has been steadily expanding its offerings as it looks to attack the micro-mobility space from every angle. Lime says its ultimate goal is to serve all trips under five miles.
In 2020, Lime boughtJump, Uber's shared e-bike business. And in January, it said it will launch Vespa-style electric mopeds in select markets.
Now, Lime is preparing to scale up its bike business by rolling out a new-and-improved model and expanding to 25 more cities — including nearly a dozen in the US — in 2021. It plans to double the number of cities its e-bikes serve globally.
Lime's president, Joe Kraus, told Insider that the pandemic has accelerated a shift toward micro-mobility and the company is seeing significantly more interest in shared bikes than it did just a few years ago. Plus, when Lime introduces bikes to a new market, it tends to see trips on its scooters go up as well, Kraus said.
"In the transportation business, reliability — knowing you can count on it — is what drives mode shift from, let's say, taking a car into using micro-mobility. And that drives growth," he said. "The presence of more vehicle types means that people view it as a more reliable mode of transportation and can shift more behavior to it."
The new model is set to launch this summer.
Lime's new e-bike, launching this summer, features hardware upgrades that the firm expects will not only increase customer satisfaction but also boost operational efficiency. The bikes get a more powerful motor and a torque sensor to make climbing hills easier.
"People don't want to sweat," Kraus said.
Lime also added a phone holder, an automatic two-speed transmission, and an electronic hub lock that cuts out the need for riders to manually lock the bike after a ride. Moving the motor from the front to the rear hub, Kraus said, drops the perceived weight of the bike by making it easier to maneuver.
"These all may seem like small things, but what we've found in micro-mobility is it's always a game of inches, and creating a larger audience with less friction is key to growing adoption," Kraus said.
The new model is powered by a swappable battery that's also found on Lime's Gen4 scooters, allowing the company to streamline its charging operations. The new tech will enable Lime to charge up bikes without taking them off the street, saving it money and increasing availability for customers, Kraus said.
Lime's move comes as excitement about biking and electric bikes has hit new highs during the pandemic. Lime said its customers took more than 2.5 million rides on its e-bikes in 2020, and the firm expects that figure to grow considerably in 2021.