Lime’s next-generation electric bikes are lastly making their North American debut. Nearly a yr after asserting its plans to spend $50 million on a serious e-bike growth, the San Francisco-based micromobility firm says it’ll deploy the primary wave of new bikes in Washington, DC, beginning this week.
Lime says the new bikes are considerably improved over those at the moment in service, which the corporate inherited from Jump after acquiring the bike-share firm from Uber in 2020. The $50 million funding will largely go towards designing, manufacturing, and assembling its next-generation bike, which begin rolling out this yr. The new mannequin comes with a extra highly effective 350-watt motor and a swappable battery succesful of as much as 25 miles of vary.
In addition to a new dual-speed automated transmission, the bikes additionally function swappable batteries which are interchangeable with the corporate’s fleet of electric scooters. This will enhance the client expertise, stated Lime’s director of Mid-Atlantic and Northeast operations, by making it much less possible that they’ll encounter autos with drained batteries.
“Now we can actually get the batteries quicker,” Lime’s Paul Holley advised The Verge. “You don’t have as many low battery vehicles out in the field. Our task turnaround times are a lot quicker.”
The swappable batteries are actually crucial new function in Lime’s next-gen e-bike. Lime views the power to swap batteries between scooters and bikes as not simply good for patrons but additionally its personal backside line. Lime saves cash each by simplifying its manufacturing course of and operationally by lowering the quantity of work that must be accomplished by its groups working in every metropolis.
“When you unify that battery ecosystem and you isolate it to a single battery, what that really does is it increases the density of the work that needs to get done out in the field,” Holley stated. “So now you don’t necessarily have to have two separate teams that are kind of just running out in their own lane and just doing their own thing.”
Not each scooter and bike firm is satisfied. Bird, for instance, has staked out an opposing place, arguing swappable batteries are sometimes smaller and maintain much less cost than non-swappable ones. The firm has additionally argued that swappable batteries have a bigger carbon footprint as a result of they require extra automobile miles traveled to retrieve, exchange, and recharge scooters.
Holley argued that swappable batteries don’t essentially translate into much less energy or decrease vary; Lime can select to put in bigger batteries if it needs. “We can do that within the context and the confines of a swappable battery ecosystem,” he stated. “You can go up and down in terms of size and range and amp hours and all those types of things.”
There are different new options on the bike: the handlebars are being changed with ones much like Lime’s scooters, there’s a cellphone holder in the entrance basket, and the bike will be capable of hit speeds of as much as 20mph (relying on native laws). It weighs 72 kilos, which is heavier than the 65-pound electric Citi Bikes.
I acquired an opportunity to check out one of Lime’s new bikes late final yr. Riding the bike over from Brooklyn to Lower Manhattan, I used to be impressed by the motor’s potential to dole out energy. The increase was practically instantaneous as far as I might inform, with none of the jerkiness or sluggish motor build-up of some lesser e-bikes. It’s removed from the sexiest e-bike I’ve ever ridden, however that’s by design since Lime’s e-bikes are constructed for energy, stability, and sturdiness.
That stated, I don’t suppose individuals who use bike-share will abandon their most popular e-bikes and flock to Lime’s new fashions. Bike-share is a device of comfort, and clients usually use the bike that’s nearest to their location.
Lime will preserve its cherry-red Jump bikes in operation, with no plans to section these out in favor of the new Lime-branded e-bikes. The firm has acknowledged that it needs to be a multimodal supplier of many differing kinds of low-speed, electric autos. In 2020, Lime added pedal-less e-bikes from Wheels to its app in a number of cities as part of a new effort to combine third-party micromobility suppliers. And it additionally rolled out electric mopeds in a number of markets, together with Paris and Washington, DC.
It’s nice to see Lime investing in new technical specs in an effort to broaden the choices it has accessible in its app. Scooters are good for vacationers or people who find themselves out for a brief jaunt. But bikes are higher for longer distances, and e-bikes, in explicit, are nice at changing automobile journeys. In that respect, Lime could have an actual highly effective device in its arsenal for its broader marketing campaign to advertise electric, zero tailpipe-emission transportation.