LimePod test drive: Lime’s new carshare product for Seattle
It’s not just bikes anymore. The LimePod program will start in Seattle on December 10, debuting the company’s first carshare program in the nation.
“Seattle is the first and only LimePod market,” said Pete Dempster, LimePod program manager. “…we have a permit that allows us to 7,500 bikes, and we have hundreds of thousands of users already so we thought it was perfect to launch LimePod here in Seattle.”
Lime plans to expand the carshare offering in other markets, starting with one in California in 2019.
Lime entered Seattle in July 2017 with its bikeshare program. It was part of a pilot with two other bikeshare companies, and is the only one to last (though Uber and Lyft are currently entering the Seattle bikeshare market). Lime expanded to scooter-shares in other cities, such as Tacoma. Now, it is targeting the carshare market with LimePod.
Lime tested its carshare program with 50 users in Seattle over the past few weeks. When it officially launches in Seattle IOS users will get access first. It will be available to Android users shortly after that.
“LimePod is carshare reimagined,” Dempster said. “We have a lot of vehicles on the road here in Seattle – ebikes and pedal bikes and this is our carshare offering. It’s all part of one platform.”
LimePod: A Fiat 500 … for now
LimePod is a Fiat 500. It’s a small 2-door car, with a compact back seat area. Dempster said that it was chosen because it was “fun” and also fuel efficient. Lime’s team, which is based in Ballard, will run around town to refuel the cars, similar to how they replace batteries in their electric bikes. Lime has also calculated an estimated number of trips and has purchased carbon offsets for its cars, making them carbon neutral.
The company does have plans to convert over to electric vehicles. That conversion may happen in 2019.
“Our goal is to introduce a small electric vehicle that we believe is more oriented toward urban mobility,” Dempster said. “What we are currently discussing is Q1 of 2019 and an additional pilot with that vehicle.”
“The goal is to quickly swap out the conventional Fiats with this electric vehicle,” he said.
How to use a LimePod
Other carshares already serve Seattle, such as Car2Go and ReachNow. Each company operates in a similar way — using a smartphone to find a car to rent. Unlock them by scanning a code. Though LimePod aims to be slightly cheaper at $1 to unlock and 40 cents a minute after that.
Customers then drive to their destination and end their trip on their phone — the car will lock.
A few points:
- Drivers must be 21 and cannot have had a violation over the past year, including citations for DUI or driving while using their phones. The first time a driver uses the carshare option, they will be asked to provide their drivers license information. Lime will check their driving record for approval.
- Drivers can “pause” their trip, reserving it for them. For example, they can drive the car to the grocery store, pause the trip, and no one else can rent it while they are in the store. The meter continues to run while it is paused.
- Customers can drive the cars outside of Seattle, but rides can only end in Seattle. Therefore, if someone drives a LimePod to Bellevue, they can only pause the ride there and must return it to Seattle to end the trip.
- If a customer gets a violation on a red light camera, etc. the ticket will be forwarded to them.
- Seattle’s free-floating carshare permit allows LimePods to be parked in any legal parking space, including restricted parking zones and metered areas as long as the space is for more than one hour.
- There is a key in the car, but it cannot be removed.
- If a customer ends a ride while in the car, they can still get out. The car will lock itself after they leave.