Lime (transportation company)

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Neutron Holdings, Inc.
Industry Dockless electric scooter sharing, dockless bike sharing, car sharing
FoundedJanuary 2017; 3 years ago (2017-01)
San Francisco, California, United States
FoundersToby Sun,
Brad Bao
Headquarters San Francisco, California, United States
Area served
Asia, Europe, Middle East, North America, Oceania, South America

Neutron Holdings, Inc. doing business under the name Lime, formerly LimeBike, is an American transportation company based in the San Francisco, USA. It runs electric scooters, electric bikes, normal pedal bikes and car sharing systems in various cities around the world. The system offers dockless vehicles which users find and unlock via a mobile app which knows the location of available vehicles via GPS.


LimeBike was founded in January 2017 by Brad Bao and Toby Sun, both of whom were executives of Fosun International's venture capital arm. It raised US$12 million in venture funding led by Andreessen Horowitz in March 2017. [1] The company's first location, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, launched in June 2017 with 125 bicycles. [2]


LimeBike expanded in July 2017 to the cities of Key Biscayne, Florida, South Bend, Indiana, and South Lake Tahoe, California. [3] [4] [5] On July 27, 2017, LimeBike launched with 500 bicycles in Seattle, Washington, becoming the city's second bikeshare operator. [6]

Caen Contee, VP Marketing, Lime, left, and Markus Villig, Co-founder & CEO, Taxify, Web Summit 2018 at the Altice Arena in Lisbon, Portugal.

The company closed a Series B round of venture funding in October 2017, announcing that it was valued at $225 million. [7] A $335 million funding round in 2018 led to a valuation of $1.1 billion for the company, making it a unicorn. [8]

As of October 2017, Lime had 150,000 users. [9]

In November 2017, LimeBike announced NFL running back Marshawn Lynch as one of its brand promoters, partnering with his company Beast Mode Apparel. [10]

In January 2018 Lime announced at CES 2018 that they would begin a trial of electric bikes, branded Lime-E, in San Francisco. [11] The following month Lime-S electric scooters were announced. [12]

In May 2018, the company announced that it would rebrand as "Lime" and partner with Segway to produce new scooters. [13]

In May 2018, the company announced plans to begin development of transit pods, small self-driving electric vehicles. [14] Lime applied for car-sharing permits in Seattle in October 2018 and later launched a service in December 2018 with a fleet of Fiat 500 Lounge cars branded as "LimePod." [15] [16]

In August 2018, the company signed a deal with Uber to provide them with electric bikes for the expansion of their Uber Bikes service. [17]

In October 2018 Lime announced the release of a new model e-scooter with larger wheels, built-in suspension and an aluminum frame to combat vandalism and extend vehicle life. [18]

In May 2019, co-founder and chief executive officer Toby Sun stepped down reportedly to focus on R&D while Brad Bao, a Lime co-founder, took his place as CEO. [19]

In September 2019, Lime was recognized as one of the LinkedIn's Top Startups for 2019. This was the first time Lime has been listed, and it was ranked at No. 12 amongst the list of 50 startups. [20]

In October 2019, Lime announced it is predicting to lose about $300 million in 2019. [21]

In January 2020, Lime laid off about 100 employees, or approximately 14 percent of its workforce, and ended its scooter rental service in a dozen markets, including Atlanta, Phoenix, San Diego and San Antonio. [22] Further layoffs in April were blamed on the COVID-19 pandemic, with the CEO saying, "We had to pause operations in 99% of our markets worldwide to support cities’ efforts at social distancing." [23]

Started in March 2020, due to reduced demand for electric scooters during the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020, Lime had to suspend service in nearly two dozen countries. [24]

In April 2020, Lime is reported to have acquired assets of electric skateboard startup Boosted.

Lime acquired the Jump e-bike and scooter business from Uber in May 2020, along with a $170 million funding round led by Uber, with Bain Capital Ventures and GV participating. The deal valued Lime at $510 million, down 79% from its $2.4 billion valuation in April 2019. At the same time, Brad Bao stepped down as CEO, replaced by Wayne Ting. [23]


Users scan the QR code to unlock the scooter

The user installs the Lime app on a device (typically a smartphone), on which are displayed all the vehicles available (tracked by GPS) nearby. Before starting a trip, the user supplies payment information. The user then scans the QR code on the vehicle, beginning the trip. To end the trip, the user parks the vehicle then ends the ride through the app. The price of the trip is immediately withdrawn from the user's credit card. Lime requires every user to take a picture of the parked vehicle and its surroundings, to review whether the vehicle was parked improperly. If any problems were encountered with the trip (like a malfunctioning vehicle) the user can report it through the app.

Operating area and hours

On the Lime app, the user can see the operating area of the service. Riding outside of the operating area is tolerated, but if the user leaves the vehicle outside the operating area, they will be charged a fee. The fee changes based on the location. On the map, there are various red zones, in which users are prohibited to park. If riders misbehave, they will incur a fine.

Whilst Lime doesn't have set operating hours, the availability of electric vehicles (scooters and e-bikes) during nighttime is severely reduced due to their need to be recharged every night. Normal pedal bikes are available 24/7. If a user finds a scooter/e-bike outside during the nighttime, they can still unlock it. Lime operates every day of the week.


As of September 2019, Lime operated in more than 120 cities across more than 30 countries. [25]

In January 2020, Lime announced that it was pulling away from 11 locations, including several US metropolitan areas such as Atlanta. [26]

Lime Scooter On A Sidewalk In Oakland, California
Lime-S Generation 2
Lime Transport Van
Lime Juicer


Lime, depending on location, uses three different types of vehicles.


Four different electric scooter models are currently in use:

  • Lime-S Ninebot ES4, made by Segway with extra battery attached on to the Main Pole.
  • Lime-S Generation 1
  • Lime-S Generation 2
  • Lime-S Generation 3

Lime has a fleet of 120,000 scooters and they last about five months each. [21]

In select locations, Lime uses the Ninebot ES4. Due to the Ninebot ES4 being a consumer product, it is not well-performant in the sharing industry. Therefore, Lime developed their own scooter, which is in use in most cities. Their Lime scooter is better optimized for the ride sharing business; extended range, suspension, airless tires, stronger motor and a more durable body.

Lime-S is equipped with a GPS unit and 3G connectivity.

All of the scooter models that Lime uses can reach speeds of up to 25 km/h (16 mph) and a range of about 20–40 km (12–25 mi).


Lime-E is an electric bike, developed by Lime. The e-bike's top speed is 25 km/h (16 mph) and has a long range of about 80–100 km (50–62 mi). More specifically, the e-bike is a pedal-assisted bike, therefore it has no throttle and will only give power if the user is pedaling. It is meant to allow riders to pedal less but still obtain the same speed; therefore it is very useful in areas with lots of wind or hills. The electric power stops as soon as the user stops pedaling.

Lime-E is equipped with a GPS unit and 3G connectivity. The e-bike also has a front basket and a smart lock.

Due to the e-bike's long range and infrequent charging, Lime has the e-bike charged by their Team and not by Juicers.

Generally, Lime will use their e-bike in cities where electric scooters have not been legalized yet, such as Orlando, New York City and London.


Lime-B is a normal pedal bike, developed by Lime. It has 8 gears. Lime-B is equipped with a GPS unit and 3G connectivity. The bike also has a front basket, a solar panel, and a smart lock. It is the vehicle with the lowest price in Lime's fleet.


Lime has entered the car sharing business with their LimePod. The car in use is a Fiat 500. In order to use LimePod, users must have a valid US driver's license, must be 21+ years old, must have at least 1 year of driving history and pass a driving record check. The process to unlock the car is like unlocking one of their scooters; scanning the QR code will immediately turn the vehicle on. Users may drive out of the operating area, but must return the car inside the operating area to avoid any fees. As for parking the LimePod, it is allowed to do so in any legal metered and non-metered on-street spaces or residential permit zones. The cost for the vehicle is $1 to unlock and then $0.40/min. The LimePod service is currently available only in Seattle and Tacoma, Washington, United States.


Lime's pricing typically starts at €1 or $1 to unlock an electric scooter or electric bike, plus a variable rate per minute depending on location. Normal pedal bikes typically cost €1 or $1 for a 30-minute ride.


Lime's main competitor is Bird.[ citation needed] Nevertheless, many other smaller companies have been funded since Lime's and Bird's arrival and one competitor Jump Bikes are now part of Lime.

User collaborations


Lime scooters are charged by gig workers, private contractors who sign up to become "Juicers"; the company sends approved Juicers charging equipment, and pays them to charge scooters overnight then place them at designated "groves" throughout the company's service area in the morning. Juicing can become competitive, with Juicers in some markets using vans and other creative means to pick up scooters all over the city. [27]

The amount of money that Lime gives the independent contractors for charging a particular scooter depends on how long the scooter has been sitting out on the street after being flagged for needing a charge and before the Juicer reflags the scooter in an app to claim the reward.


Conflicts with local authorities

Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Lime has been criticized for its approach towards municipalities, including ignoring local laws. In February 2019, a Fort Lauderdale Lime user was placed in a vegetative state after a violent collision with a car while riding a Lime scooter on the road, not the legally permitted sidewalk use. The injured woman was allegedly instructed to use the road by Lime's app. [28]

San Francisco, California

In September 2018, Lime sued San Francisco for denying Lime a permit. Lime had been operating in San Francisco without permission and received a cease-and-desist. [29] [30]

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Scooters were initially banned in Milwaukee when Bird Rides Inc. started their scooter business without permission. Wisconsin's Governor Tony Evers signed a bill July 11, 2019 regulating scooters. [31] Shortly after the Governor's decision (July 23, 2019) Lime began operating in Milwaukee in a Pilot program, until the city again halted scooter rentals because of complaints about riders riding on sidewalks. Lime wanted to increase its fleet of 500 scooters in the Milwaukee area but they were denied permission. [32]

Cease-and-desist letters

Lime has received cease-and-desist letters from numerous cities, including Reno, [33] San Francisco, [34] Indianapolis, [35] and others.

Vehicle malfunctions

Some of Lime's electric scooters have been recalled due to mechanical failures. In October 2018, Lime recalled a number of its Segway Ninebot scooters after several cases of batteries "smoldering, or in some cases, catching fire". [36]

In November 2018, Lime issued a recall of its Okai-model scooters on reports that the baseboards could "break in half". [37] The recall was issued following internal comments by employees that its scooters were unsafe for public use. [38]

In January 2019, Lime withdrew its scooters from two Swiss locations ( Basel and Zürich) following accidents allegedly caused by brakes automatically activating when the scooters were still in motion. [39]

In February 2019, Lime issued a safety update, announcing that some of its scooters could malfunction and their wheels could "lock up" at high speeds. The company was forced to temporarily withdraw its scooters from circulation in Auckland and Dunedin, New Zealand, after injuries caused by irregular braking incidents. [40] [41]


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External links