Lime: ‘Brussels becoming our flag-bearer for e-scooter’
After Troty and Bird, Californian e-scooter rental service, Lime, has discovered Brussels and promptly doubled its offer from 500 to 1.000 e-scooters last month. “The enormous growth even in winter, has surprised us”, Benjamin Barnathan from Lime Belgium says. “Brussels has become our European flag-bearer city.”
Belgian Troty broke the ice with 60 e-scooters in Brussels in June 2018, followed in September by Californian start-up, Bird, which spread out some 200 free-floating e-scooters in Brussels after getting the green light from the city government. Lime came in third, but immediately took a broader view.
18 to 24 km/hour
The e-scooters offer a range of 20 km and can achieve a speed of up to 18 to 24 kph. Just like any other free-floating mobility service, the access and payment goes through an app. You pay one euro per ride, plus 0,15 euro per minute. During the night the e-scooters are recharged and not available.
Brussels seems to love this new mobility gadget. “In the meantime, we have 35.000 users and this week we’ll round the cape of 100.000 rides”, Barnathan says. However, he still sees a lot of growth margin with 1,2 million people living in Brussels.
“Compared to the number of cars in Brussels, the number of e-scooters is negligible“, his colleague from Bird Benelux, Jonatan de Boer, says. He doesn’t want to give exact numbers. “We started with less e-scooters on the streets and are extending the offer only if we see that they are being used. This way we avoid the e-scooters to swing around.”
Contrary to its competitor Bird, Lime does not have any scooters yet in Belgium’s second largest city, Antwerp. It tried to launch 50 of them, but had to pull back because of lack of permit from the city government.
Two extra permits
“The coming months we’ll grant two more permits. We’re negotiating with several parties, but nothing is decided yet”, Koen Kennis, Antwerp Alderman for Mobility, says. About Bird’s efforts to promote traffic safety in using the e-scooters, the alderman is quite positive. Judged by preliminary figures, it looks that usage of e-scooters in Antwerp is at the highest of all European cities.
‘Living its iPhone moment’
It’s clear the e-scooter is to live ‘its iPhone moment’ in 2019, as Tony Ho, top man of Chinese Segway-Ninebot, says in an interview with The Financial Times. His company sold more than a million e-scooters last year and is house-supplier for both Bird and Lime.
He believes the e-scooter is only starting its march, but he also thinks that it can only survive if today’s e-scooter businesses are bought by big players who integrate the e-scooters within a broader mobility solution. Lime already got financial power with 467 million dollar from Uber and Google, while Bird got 418 million. So it looks the predators are on the watch with eagle’s eyes.