The Latest Mobility Breakthrough: a 'Fiat'
Lime, the company that sent electric scooters driven by traffic-unaware short-term renters to every corner of the continent, has a new mobility plan. While e-scooters and bikes are great for travelling short distances in the city (a fact many pedestrians and motorists would disagree with), sometimes you need to go up hills, or perhaps travel further — and with more people — than a two-wheeled conveyance would allow.
What to do? Call on an automotive brand that’s desperate for sales, that’s what. Oh, and those aren’t Fiat 500s. They’re LimePods.
Starting this week, Seattle residents will be able to whip out their phone, tap an app, and locate a Fiat500Pod nearby. It costs a dollar to unlock the car, and 40 cents a minute while you’re behind the wheel. Leave the car at your destination and forget about it, just like a Lime scooter or bike.
As mentioned, Lime calls this service LimePod, which is quite an insult to the poor Fiat 500. However, mobility calls for fancy futurespeak, and Lime has Silicon Valley jargon in spades:
Lime calls these, and I wish I was joking, “a convenient, affordable, weather-resistant mobility solution for communities” pic.twitter.com/727FQmeTbl
— Christopher Mims 🎆 (@mims) November 14, 2018
This kind of “free-floating” car sharing is already in place in certain markets, with companies like Car2Go allowing users to drive and park at random, assuming you have a driver’s license. In Seattle, a city free of Lime scooters but not bikes, the service allows greater penetration for the brand. The company’s starting off with 50 corporate-badged Fiat 500s this week, with plans to field 500 by year’s end and 1,500 by early 2019. If you’re curious, they’re not the denounced-by-Marchionne electric versions. Users can gas up as needed.
In order for users to actually find a place to park, Lime has applied for 500 parking permits from the city of Seattle, Bloomberg reports.
Lime’s intent, like that of other mobility providers, is to give carless folks new options on how to get around, much to the consternation of automakers and municipal transit companies. It’s no wonder OEMs want in on ride-hailing and car-sharing cash. Earlier this year, Lime talked up its plan to dispense “transit pods” on city streets for those who prefer travelling at speeds of up to 40 mph. Those vehicles were imagined as electric, golf cart-like vehicles, but going the Fiat route seems to have been the easier solution, at least in the short term.
After Seattle, Lime has its eye on a major California city as its next LimePod market. Take a wild guess at which mobility-loving municipality the company has in its sights.
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