Bike- and scooter-sharing startup Lime is looking to test car rentals in Seattle, according to a report from The Information. Lime, which launched in early last year and operates in markets across 26 US states, has boasted that its scooters have taken cars off the road in cities where it operates. Now, it's reaching for a piece of the growing car-sharing market with a small host of around 500 cars made by Fiat Chrysler. There's no concrete date set for when Lime will begin offering the new service, but an application submitted to Seattle's car-sharing program in October indicates it could happen very soon.
Lime's new car-sharing service would be similar to its scooter and bike rentals, as well as programs already in use by Car2Go and ReachNow. With those services, you can reserve cars scattered around the market area via smartphone app and drive them to your destination, leaving them for the next user. Lime's decision to add cars to its bike and scooter-based business model mirrors recent moves by Zipcar, another car-sharing startup; that company recently added bikes to their car-based business.
This move is primed to put Lime in a similar market with Uber, a primary Lime investor. The Information's report posits that the Seattle market is fruitful enough to support both Lime and Uber car services, but the relationship between the two services makes the news worth keeping an eye on. While ride sharing and car rental services are different things, the markets are similar enough that Lime and Uber could potentially see each other as competitors. Like Lime, Uber also offers bike sharing through its Jump bikes.