Cities with Lime and Lyft scooter share programs will soon see some new models scootin’ around the city. The companies are rolling out new designs in the coming weeks, which they will integrate into their fleets over time. Both of the models emphasize sturdier designs and company branding.
Lyft’s new scooters are Segway-Ninebot’s Shared Scooter Model Max, which are specifically designed for share scooter programs. They debuted at CES 2019, and Lyft will be the first company to employ the new model — Bird and other competitors also use Segway-Ninebot.
In addition to longer battery life and a design meant to better withstand a lot of riding under many weather conditions, the wheels — like the Lyft mustache — will be pink.
Lime showed off its Generation 3 scooter back in October, with similar features like bigger wheels and fancy upgrades such as the ability see if you’re in a no-parking zone. Now, the scooter company is ready to bring them to the streets, complete with accents of Lime’s signature green.
With both new designs, there’s a clear emphasis on both safety and differentiation through design. Lyft is also adding scooter docks, so riders will have the option to park scooters in a designated location if they wish. That’s a move Lyft may have imported from the docked bike share company Motivate that it acquired in July 2018.
Neither company has shared what cities the new scooters will be coming to specifically, or when, beyond the coming weeks. Lyft declined to state what it would do with the old scooter models, and we’re still waiting to hear from Lime on that one. Hopefully, the old models won’t just end up on the garbage heap.
Electric scooter startup Bird is said to be nearing a deal to extend its Series C funding with an additional $300 million led by cross-over investor Fidelity, according to an Axios report. Bird declined to comment.
Fidelity has not previously invested in Bird and is reportedly doing so at a flat pre-money valuation of $2 billion, which Bird earned with a $300 million Sequoia-led financing in June. Santa Monica-based Bird has raised more than $400 million in venture capital funding to date from investors, including Accel, CRV, Greycroft, Index Ventures, Upfront Ventures, Craft Ventures and Tusk Ventures.
The investment comes at a time when many investors are losing faith in scooter startups’ claims to be the solution to the problem of last-mile transportation, as companies in the space display poor unit economics, faulty batteries and a general air of undependability. Lime, Bird’s biggest e-scooter competitor, has at least expanded its suite of micro-mobility offerings from bikes and scooters to LimePods, a line of shareable vehicles available in Seattle, to peak investor interest. San Francisco-based Lime has been seen pitching to investors in Silicon Valley recently, too, with reports indicating it’s looking for a $400 million investment at a $3 billion valuation — more than three times the valuation it garnered with a $335 million round in July.
It seems like decades ago that scooters first roamed free and wild all over.
It’s really been about a year — it was just in the beginning of 2018 that e-scooters really started to drop into cities around the U.S. Even though some cities have cracked down on its scooter policies (hello, San Francisco and Santa Monica), the motorized vehicles are still here. In some places, you might even say they’re thriving.
A look back on the past year in scooters gives us a hint of where we’re going: more scooters in more places.
Lime’s end-of-the-year report from this week tells a pretty universal scooter story. People are downloading the apps to rent the devices and then taking a lot of rides. Since Lime launched 18 months ago, it’s reached 9 million app downloads.
Its electric vehicles, bikes and scooters, are available in more than 100 cities in five continents. Its most recent additions are in Australia and New Zealand. Breaking it down even more, Lime’s had 26 million rides.
It’s not just standalone scooter apps seeing success, though. Ride-hailing apps took a meaningful leap into scooters and e-bikes this year. Uber’s Jump acquisition lets it offer bicycles and scooters for rent on the app in several U.S. cities, Berlin, and soon even more cities throughout Europe. A partnership with Lime links the app to that company’s scooters.
Lyft scooters launched this year and acquired bike-share company Motivate. Last month Lyft put in $100 million into the bike-share system as part of the deal. Lyft plans on doubling the size of New York’s Citi Bike service area and tripling the number of bikes nationwide in the next five years.
So far Lyft has scooters in six cities: Denver, Santa Monica, Washington, D.C., Arlington, Austin, and Los Angeles. On Thursday morning, Lyft announced scooters coming to two more cities: Nashville and San Diego. Since kicking off in September, Lyft riders have ridden scooters more than 200,000 times.
Then there’s Bird, the company that really spurred the e-scooter trend. In the past year, it’s moved into more cities and last month offered the opportunity to run your own scooter network off their network. Bird is valued at $2 billion and rumored to be in talks with Uber. But who really knows?
One thing’s for certain: The scooters aren’t going anywhere.
December 20, 2018 / Comments Off on E-scooters get a lot of hate, but they’re sticking around
Lime made it to Australia last month and Mexico City the month before. On Thursday, the motorized scooters dropped into Google Maps, inching us ever closer to e-scooter world domination.
On the Google Maps mobile app, a scooter option showing nearby Lime scooters will come up when mapping out directions on transit. The app will show if a scooter is available, how many others are nearby, how long it’ll take to walk to the scooter, and an estimate of how much your ride will cost.
In the U.S., Lime rides cost $1 to unlock and 15 cents per minute.
Clicking on the Lime option doesn’t mean you can rent a scooter straight through the navigation app. Instead, that opens up the standalone Lime app — and if you don’t have it, you’ll need to download it and sign up to use the e-scooters.
There’s also the safety issue of riders not having a helmet on them to ride the scooters if an impromptu trip comes up. Though, starting in January, adults in California can decide if they want to protect themselves on the motorized vehicles.
Lime scooters on Google Maps is first available in Auckland, New Zealand; Austin; Baltimore; Brisbane, Australia; Dallas; Indianapolis; Los Angeles; San Diego; Oakland; San Antonio, Texas; San Jose, California; Scottsdale, Arizona, and Seattle. Google says more cities will offer the feature soon. More than 100 cities offer Lime vehicles like scooters and bicycles.
Like we said: world domination.
December 13, 2018 / Comments Off on Lime e-scooters are everywhere, even Google Maps
An e-scooter is an e-scooter is an e-scooter. Right?
It may seem that way, but companies are developing new designs for the two-wheeled machines. As the scooter-share industry continues to grow, it’s becoming clear that the motorized devices are increasingly important.
Superpedestrian, a transportation robotics company, works behind the scenes on scooter development. This week it introduced its vehicle intelligence software system that the Cambridge, Massachusetts company wants to pair with a new rugged, “industrial-grade” e-scooter. It thinks it can take on fundamental flaws with scooters: overuse, quickly drained batteries, easily hackable, and more.
The new software system comes as several operators admit to issues with the scooters themselves. Lime recently pulled certain scooters off the road after reports of battery fires and cracked baseboards. The bright green scooter company earlier unveiled its next generation machine that includes some smarter features, like a screen that displays no-go zones and parking rules.
Another scooter company, Bird, has been rolling out a steady stream of updated equipment, switching manufacturers and adding proprietary features and designs. Even Skip, one of two San Francisco scooter operators, introduced a new scooter design within weeks of launching with a permit in the city.
Superpedestrian wants to put some “brains” into the scooter fleets out there. The same software system is already used for e-bike-sharing with Superpedestrian’s Copenhagen Wheel. Now the MIT lab spinoff company based in Cambridge, Mass., wants scooter companies to use their vehicles and operations platform to take care of these over-used and abused fleets.
CEO Assaf Biderman highlighted the scooters’ economic benefit for fleets in a recent conversation. “It’s built to survive in the streets a lot longer,” he said. He said it also has a longer life expectancy from nine to 18 months.
The sturdier design and wider wheel is designed to handle potholes and curbs. Then there’s the battery. The Superpedestrian scooter is supposed to last three to seven days. Biderman sees this as the biggest benefit for companies spending money collecting or paying independent contractors to charge scooters every night.
The operations software that tracks what’s up with all the scooters in real time in one handy platform is where Biderman sees the real savings coming in. Hardware problems like battery, sensor, or wiring problems, are flagged and risky vehicles are spotted. Remote software restarts can fix other issues. Complying with city regulations, like no-riding zones or speed limits can also be controlled through the software.
Instead of relying on users and chargers to flag device issues this system is all cloud-based. The fewer humans involved in fleet management, the cheaper it is. “[The scooters] can live longer because you can maintain them,” he said.
I took a quick ride in downtown San Francisco on the “smart” scooter and most noticeably the big, thick wheels made going over a curb or rutted SF street not as harrowing of an experience.
I haven’t started my own scooter operation yet, but for when I want to build my e-scooter empire a platform like Superpedestrian’s could be pre-fabricated way to maintain, organize, and attempt to actually make money off the scooter craze.
Also released on Tuesday was the Acton M Scooter Pro, an e-scooter with a 30-mile range on a single charge. Most of the scooters on the street have about 15 miles on a charge. It’ll be available in the start of the new year. The Bay Area-based company echoes a lot of what Superpedestrian says about scooters used for fleets.
In a release about the new motorized scooter, co-founder Peter Treadway said, “we noticed a gap in the market for a dependable, long-lasting, sustainable scooter.” He added, “It’s built like a vehicle, not a toy, to withstand the everyday wear and tear of commercial use.”
Playtime is over for e-scooters.
December 4, 2018 / Comments Off on ‘Smart’ e-scooter thinks it can fix flaws with scooter-sharing