Lime is launching its shared car service in Seattle this week
Bloomberg is reporting that Lime’s carsharing service, LimePod, is landing in Seattle this week.
Lime has quickly taken over Northwest communities from Seattle to Portland. In Seattle alone, the service boasted over 320,000 riders on its bikeshare back in October, and has seen its pilot program for scootershares take off in Tacoma.
Next, Lime is venturing into the world of carshares, bring the service to Seattle this week. Limepod will start with 50 vehicles on city streets as part of its beta program — unlocking a car will run customers $1, and will cost 40 cents a minute after that.
Lime’s goal is to eventually feature upwards of 500 cars in Seattle by the end of the year, with a fleet of 2018 two-door, four-seat Fiats. Accomplishing that would make them the biggest “free-floating” carsharing service in any city in the country.
Lime expands its empire
While its carshare service gets off the ground in Seattle, Lime recently petitioned Tacoma for a 60-day extension of its scootershare pilot program. The success of that program has had it knocking on Seattle’s door, despite resistance from city leadership.
“We would have to change the law,” said Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan in early-October. “They would not be legal in Seattle. And I know the state Legislature has some concerns, too. Because any time you introduce something that is motorized where pedestrians are, or where bikes are, you increase the ability to have accidents.”
Lime responded by launching a portal where anyone could submit a pre-written form to city officials in support of bringing the scootershare service to Seattle.
In a region battling traffic congestion, Lime has attempted to position itself as a potential solution to that issue. A study done on Car2Go in 2016 estimated that the carsharing service reduced the number of miles the average household traveled by car by up to 16 percent. It stands to reason that LimePod would hope to serve a similar purpose.
Some wonder if the company is spreading itself thin, though, as it faces a pair of November recalls for its scooters, while experiencing what Bloomberg categorizes as a “global shortage” of the popular offering.
Lime will immediately challenge a pair of existing services in Seattle in Car2Go and ReachNow, who both boast a fleet of around 700 cars each.
Car2Go charges for packages starting at 30 minutes for $9, all the way up to two days for $159. In addition to the two-door Next Gen Smartcar, Car2Go also offers options for a four-door Mercedes Benz sedan and a five-passenger Mercedes SUV. Using any Mercedes vehicle costs 45 cents a minute.
ReachNow charges 45 cents per minute, $15 for the first hour, $50 dollars for three hours, and $80 for a full day. Its fleet includes BMW sedans and SUVs, smaller, two-door BMWs, MINI Coopers, and MINI’s larger, more spacious Clubman.
The companies announced in March that they would be merging in order to expand their respective offerings, but the deal has yet to be approved by regulators.
It remains to be seen how that merger will affect Lime throwing its own hat into the carsharing ring, but perhaps we’ll see firsthand now that the Seattle customers can try out LimePod for themselves.