Parisians will from Friday be able to hire electric scooters to zip around the congested streets of the French capital.
The dockless service, provided by the American company Lime, will allow users to pick up and leave the e-scooters anywhere they want.
Several hundred units will be made available in just two of the capital’s 20 districts on Friday but the “fleet will quickly be expanded to match demand,” Lime France general director Arthur-Louis Jacquier said.
The electric scooters will run for 50 km on a single charge and their speed will be capped at 24 km/h. Users will be able to locate the nearest available unit on an app and unlock it by scanning a QR code.
Prices start at €1 per trip or €0.15 per minute, with the average use estimated to cost between €2 and €3.
Hire services in Paris
Lime’s arrival in Paris comes as the city’s electric car share scheme, AutoLib, lives out its last few days. The city has decided to terminate its contract with the Bollore group — who provides the service — after it warned that Autolib’s growing debt could reach €293 million by the end of the contract in 2023.
Users had also increasingly complained about poor service.
The city’s Velib bike share scheme is also in the midst of its own scandal after a chaotic change of provider at the beginning of the year. Smovengo, who took over from JCDecaux promised to improve the system, bring in safer bikes as well as electric models.
But months after it took over, nearly half the network remains shut due to a shambolic take-over.
Jacquier said that Lime’s roll-out is being done “in partnership” with Paris’ town hall. The company will sign a code of conduct next week with the city stating, among other things, that the e-scooters are not to be used on the pavement.
San Francisco, Berlin, Zurich…
Lime was founded in June 2017 as LimeBike, a dockless bike share service, before diversifying into electric scooters.
In the past few months, it has rolled out bike networks in Germany — Berlin, Frankfurt and Bremen — and in Switzerland's Zurich, where its e-scooters are also available.
The company has so far already raised some $130 million (€110 million) in investments. Its main competitor, Bird, is poised to become a tech unicorn with a valuation of more than $1 billion (€860 million).
However, dockless e-scooters have not been embraced everywhere. San Francisco now requires companies like Bird and Lime to apply for a permit so that the vehicles, which can be left anywhere, do not become a nuisance.
The quick proliferation of dockless bike-share companies in China has led to the creation of “bike graveyards” after some of them went bankrupt due to intense competition.