Executives at e-scooter rental company Lime announced they are working with Google engineers to improve customers’ ride-sharing experience. Specifically, Lime is teaming up with Google Maps to help riders find transportation devices with greater ease.
Ride-sharing industry experts believe this partnership will help Lime in its ongoing competition with rival company Bird. E-scooter enthusiasts are also hopeful that placing these devices on Google Maps it will further legitimize e-scooters as a modern mode of transportation.
To test out this new detection technology, first you have to download the Google Maps app onto your phone. After opening Google Maps, look for e-scooters, e-bikes, and rentable bikes in the app’s transit tab.
Once you’ve set up the app, you should be able to see where Lime transportation devices are in your area. In addition to showing you where each device is located, the app will detail the estimated cost for a rental, how long it will take you to get to the device, and other Lime devices nearby.
Please note: you can’t directly rent a Lime device via the Google Maps app. You still need to have Lime’s official app downloaded onto your mobile device to unlock your chosen vehicle.
As of today, this tracking feature is only available in 13 cities. Most of these cities are in America and include Baltimore, Indianapolis, Seattle, San Diego, San Jose, Oakland, Los Angeles, San Antonio, Dallas, Austin, Scottsdale.
There are also two locations in Oceania: Auckland, New Zealand and Brisbane, Australia.
There’s no word yet when Google will expand this Maps feature to all cities that have Lime devices.
Business experts believe this deal with Google Maps further solidifies Lime’s status as a major player in the e-scooter rental market. This doesn’t mean, however, that Lime will enjoy a monopoly anytime soon.
Santa Monica-based company Bird is Lime’s greatest competitor in this space. Both Bird and Lime are now operating in hundreds of cities and dozens of college campuses and are worth over $1 billion each.
In addition to competition within the ride-sharing space, companies like Lime are fighting against the increasing popularity of owning e-scooters. Many manufacturers are now offering e-scooters for purchase at prices as low as $400.
Although Lime is undoubtedly a key figure in the e-scooter rental space, the road to success hasn’t been particularly smooth. Indeed, there are still many unresolved issues plaguing this San Francisco-based company.
One issue many cities have had with companies like Lime is that they sometimes dump hundreds of e-scooters on the streets overnight without approval from City Council. Lime and Bird are notorious for using this strategy to quickly get locals hooked on e-scooters.
In many cases, this strategy has backfired for both Bird and Lime. Lime is currently banned from numerous cities including Madrid and San Francisco.
Lime has also had to deal with angry pedestrians defacing their vehicles. In some cases, frustrated locals have taken to throwing Lime e-scooters into lakes in Oakland.
E-scooter injuries have also become a major concern in all cities that now have these devices. It’s sometimes difficult to tell when e-scooter riders are at fault, especially in cases where the city’s infrastructure is not amenable to e-scooter travel. E-scooter injury law is still in its infancy stages in many states.
Lime was also forced to issue major recalls of thousands of its e-scooters this year. First, the company recalled all Segway-made devices over concerns they might catch fire. Shortly after this news broke, Lime issued yet another recall on e-scooters made by the Chinese company Okai. Lime spokesmen said they were getting numerous complaints that these e-scooters were coming apart while people were riding them.
Lime has been very proactive in responding to many of these complaints. For instance, the company has started organizing safety education events in various locations. The company also sends out employees to help local crews remove e-scooters that have been damaged or thrown into lakes.
After headlines broke about the Okai e-scooter recall, Lime pledged to never deal with irresponsible manufacturers again. Lime developers also announced they have created their own e-scooter called the Lime-S Generation 3. This new device has many enhanced features such as internal wiring, bigger wheels, and a 20 percent increase in battery life.
People involved in the e-scooter industry weren’t too surprised to learn about the new partnership between Google Maps and Lime. Indeed, Google had already been working with Lime well before this new app feature was announced.
It’s no secret that Google is a major financial supporter of Lime. Results from Lime’s 2018 summer fundraising efforts showed that Google Ventures was the top donor. In total, Lime raised an impressive $335 million in this round of fundraising.
While nobody knows what Google and Lime are planning on doing next, it’s clear that the Silicon Valley tech giant has a favorite in the e-scooter space.
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