If you miss the days of bumping around Capitol Hill in the first generation miniature Car2Go “Smart cars,” you are in luck.
Bike share company Lime is set to build on its fleet of electric bikes with a new fleet of tiny electric cars in Seattle.
The Puget Sound Business Journal broke the news last week that the company has applied to enter the city’s car share market.
In July, Lime hired Peter Dempster, who had overseen ReachNow’s launch in Seattle, to run its car-sharing business. Dempster said Lime hopes to shift its car-sharing fleets to electric vehicles, but said the logistics of charging the vehicles made electric cars unsustainable for now. Like bike- and scooter-sharing services, free-floating car-sharing services require operators to monitor the fleets and rebalance them, so that vehicles remain available in the areas where people are looking for them. For scooters, Lime has used both paid staff members, and “juicers,” people it pays a per-unit rate to charge and redeploy the vehicles.
Lime’s new entry in Seattle will put the company in floating car share competition with Car2Go and ReachNow. Both companies have tended toward providing larger, not necessarily hybrid or electric vehicles. Lime pricing is expected to be around $1 to start, then 40 cents a minute. The permit has not yet been approved.
Lime is already the largest provider of bike share rides in the city after introducing electric bikes to the market. The floating shares have been successful enough for City Hall to push for doubling the fleet though providers have dropped out and balked at the bid to increase operating permit costs and fees. A study showed that some of the biggest citizen pet peeves with the bikes — bad parking and blocking sidewalks — are somewhat overblown.
Lime has also introduced popular electric scooters in some markets — though not in Seattle where they are still illegal.
The Lime moves come as new data shows that driver networks like Uber and Lyft are, of course, hugely popular in Seattle — and probably contributing to the city’s clogged streets with around 40,000 rides a day starting in downtown, Belltown, South Lake Union, and on Capitol Hill.
The Durkan administration, meanwhile, has championed electric cars in the city and doing more to increase their adoption. Seattle City Light plans to install 18 more DC Fast Chargers for electric vehicles at 10 to 15 curbside and off-street locations across the city including one near Capitol Hill Station.
Lime’s new hardware sounds like fun. Popular Mechanics calls the Renault Twizy — with an asterisk — the greatest electric car in the world praising its “bug-eyed headlights,” “scissor doors that open straight up,” zero trunk space, speeds of up to 30 MPH, and a 60+ mile range. Beep beep.
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