- Lime, an industry leader in bike- and scooter-share services, will begin testing a car-sharing service dubbed "LimePod" in Seattle this week, according to Bloomberg.
- The service will begin with a fleet of 50 vehicles and slowly grow each week until there are 500 vehicles by the end of the year. By early 2019, Lime plans to roll out an estimated 1,500 cars in Seattle, making it the largest car-sharing fleet in the United States.
- Lime CEO Toby Sun told Bloomberg the primary reasons for the move into car-sharing are to serve "longer distance, higher terrain and bad weather."
This report comes just a few weeks after Lime filed an application for a car-sharing permit with the Seattle Department of Transportation, strengthening Seattle's position as a target market for shared mobility options. The city currently is home to the ReachNow car-sharing service as well as ZipCar, and the addition of LimePod is likely to spur some significant competition.
In an October interview with Smart Cities Dive, Emily Warren, Senior Director of Policy and Public Affairs at Lime, told Smart Cities Dive that Lime is continuously trying to develop new forms of mobility for its users. "Given Lime’s ability to iterate very rapidly on hardware, and the speed at which innovation in the sector is developing, it won't be long before we have additional opportunities to bring in new categories to market," she said.
Adding the new category of car-sharing to Lime's arsenal of mobility service options is directly in-line with the company's growth strategy, and will likely begin a trend among other bike and scooter operators. However this trend is the reverse of one the industry is already seeing, with ride-hailing giants such as Lyft and Uber quickly moving into the bike and scooter business. While all of these moves indicate that the shared mobility industry is on a path toward significant consolidation, it remains to be seen which mobility giant ends up on top.
In the meantime, it is likely LimePod will gain popularity at the same pace at which its dockless bikes and scooters did. Bloomberg reports that Lime is already in talks with a second market — an undisclosed city in California — to launch the LimePod service.