Lime might have another way to make e-bikes more practical: have them use the same batteries as its scooters. The mobility service is rolling out a new e-bike whose battery is interchangeable with the one in Gen4 scooter models. That saves the company money, of course, but will also help with expansion plans that (with a $50 million investment) will help Lime double its bike coverage to 50 cities in 2021. The swappable battery should be better for the environment, too, if just because Lime's charging vans won't head out quite so often.
There are functional improvements you'll notice on trips. A more powerful motor should help you climb steeper hills, and a phone holder saves you from having to stop whenever you need to check directions. An electric lock reduces the bike's weight, and the two-speed automatic transmission should lead to a smoother ride. You'll also see an updated handlebar display that matches what you find on Lime scooters.
The hardware upgrade might have been necessary even if Lime wasn't planning an expansion. E-bike use has been thriving during the pandemic, with Lime touting 2.5 million rides in 2020. With demand expected to grow in 2021, that puts added strain on Lime — the easily swappable batteries ensure Lime can keep its bikes running, and might help if demand shifts toward one vehicle type in a given city. In other words, this simple change could play an important role in keeping Lime's business humming no matter what the future brings.