Wheels is a Los Angeles-based startup that rents electric bikes in a dozen cities. Its electric-powered vehicle falls somewhere in between an e-bike and scooter, with no pedals, a seat, small but thick wheels, and a low-step frame. Lime says the partnership is not a prelude to an acquisition, and that by bringing other companies onto its app, Lime can offer convenience and reliability to its customers. The idea is to expand Lime’s user base and retain existing customers by offering more options with less app-switching.
So, following this, Lime plans to add more shared mobility services to its app in the coming months as it seeks to become both a provider and platform for all two-wheeled electric transport. The “ultimate goal,” a spokesperson says, is to own “all light electric vehicle trips under 5 miles [8km].” Wheels’ e-bikes will be available in Lime’s app starting this winter in the four cities, Austin, Miami, Seattle, and Berlin.
Providing some context, Lime started out as a bike-share company, called LimeBike, before pivoting to scooters in 2018. That same year, Uber invested over $300 million in Lime in a deal that included integrating Lime’s scooters in Uber’s app. In recent developments, Uber has sold its money-losing bike-share division, Jump, to Lime in exchange for a $170 million investment.  It will be interesting to see if the idea of a ‘one-stop-shop for mobility’ will benefit from Lime’s more limited scope, focusing on all light electric vehicle trips under five miles. Even if this distance is within a range of walking and (non-electric) biking, trips under five miles [8km] still account for as much as two-thirds of today’s total passenger miles traveled in the US and the European Union. In the US alone, 300 million car trips under 1.5 miles are taken each day. [2, 3]
Written by Victor Malmsten Lundgren, RISE Mobility and Systems.