Lime Scooters take the Limelight

If it seems like more people are zooming around your city on those green electric scooters and bikes, you are right. In February, Lime announced that it had closed a $310 million series D financing round, valuing the company at $2.4 billion, more than doubling the previous valuation of $1.1 billion.

Lime—which began operations at the University of North Carolina in 2017 as LimeBike then changed its name after introducing scooters into the lineup—signed up more than 10 million people for its micromobility services, logging more than 34 million trips last year. Lime operates in more than 100 cities, towns, company campuses, universities and communities in 15 countries. Lime was also the #1 travel app in the Czech Republic, Austria, Poland, France, Portugal, Greece and Spain.

Last year, Lime announced its “Lime Green” initiative promoting carbon neutrality for its fleet of electric bikes and scooters. “Whether you’re riding a scooter in Prague or an e-bike in Seattle,” the company said, “You can breathe easy knowing your trip will be powered with 100-percent carbon-free electricity.” Lime partnered with Native Energy (whose efforts have helped the likes of eBay, Keurig Green Mountain and Ben & Jerry’s) to invest in wind and solar energy projects and to help offset emissions from management vehicles with other Native Energy projects.

However, a study conducted by researchers at North Carolina State has found that offsetting such emissions may be harder than anticipated. According to a paper published in Environmental Research Letters, electric scooters may actually increase carbon pollution. Researchers found that electric-scooter use only offsets an average of one-third of the car trips they promise. The researchers reported that the carbon emissions used to produce the scooters, which have an average lifespan of two years, along with their daily collection and charging by (mostly) gasoline-powered vehicles add a significant amount of carbon pollution.

Lime responded to the research, saying “Sustainability is core to Lime’s mission and we’ve already taken steps to reduce our environmental impact, including streamlining our charging operations, powering our scooters with 100-percent renewable energy, offsetting the emissions from fleet vehicles and establishing a robust repair and reuse program to extend the life cycle of our products.” Only time will tell whether micromobility kick-starts the way to transportation energy sustainability.


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