It's true: after a long time focusing on scooters, Lime is ready to delve into four-wheeled transportation. The startup is launching a car-sharing service, LimePod, that will be available in Seattle as of this week. As with scooters, it'll cost just $1 to unlock a car that you can park wherever you need it -- the difference is that you'll pay 40 cents per minute (insurance included) instead of 15 cents per minute. Only 50 of the Fiat 500 cars will be available on launch, but there should be 500 by the end of 2018 and 1,500 by early 2019. That would make the largest park-anywhere offering in the US, Bloomberg said.
The company has plenty of competition, such as Daimler's Car2Go and BMW's ReachNow. However, this is really part of a larger strategy rather than an attempt to knock down the incumbents. In a sense, Lime's strategy is similar to that for Uber and Lyft -- it wants to be a general-purpose mobility company that offers the vehicle you need, whether it's a scooter for a quick errand or a car for a lengthy shopping trip. If the Seattle service works well, it could become a staple in cities where Lime operates.
For Lime, the challenge is juggling this with its mainstay scooter business. It already has to deal with multiple recalls and hesitant cities. Car-sharing may only help if Lime's regular offerings are strong, and that's far from guaranteed. Lime's popularity in the scooter world can only translate so well to cars, too. While it'll have name recognition, it'll have to show that it can adapt to a significantly different field and compete with the best options.