The Latest Mobility Breakthrough: a 'Fiat'

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
the latest mobility breakthrough a 8216 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.

[Image: Fiat]

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  • Lorenzo Lorenzo on Nov 14, 2018

    How many property owners will tolerate one of these parked in front of their house for a couple days? Even where parking isn't a premium and parking passes aren't necessary, there will be a backlash when enough of these accumulate in residential areas. In downtown areas with 2-hour parking, who will pay the tickets? At least one Southern California city collects the scooters as abandoned property if left in public areas, and cites riders who aren't wearing helmets. What'll they do with cars?

  • Golftdi Golftdi on Nov 14, 2018

    We already gave BMW ReachNow and Car2go here in Seattle. Both of them are cheaper at .40 a minute and don't require you to pay $1 to unlock. The apps show you what cars are around and how much fuel range they have. I use these sometimes instead of an uber, you can park them anywhere basically and not have to pay. They also include gas and insurance. These will probably be popular because car2go got rid of the smart cars which were able to squeezed into small parking spaces.

    • APaGttH APaGttH on Nov 15, 2018

      ZipCar also. Had the same thought, this costs more than the other car sharing services in the city. This screams of Mercedes defunct car share in Seattle that was exclusively smart4two cars. I find it ironic that a company that peddles itself as a green easy commute alternative is now going into car sharing. I guess the central argument on the long term viability of bike sharing in Seattle is being realized by LimeBike -- people don't want to ride bikes in 45 degrees, pouring rain, uphill, in the dark, while dodging construction, Metro buses and traffic. What a shock.

  • Fahrvergnugen NA Miata goes topless as long as roads are dry and heater is running, windscreen in place.
  • 3SpeedAutomatic As a side note, have you looked at a Consumers Report lately? In the past, they would compare 3 or 4 station wagons, or compact SUVs, or sedans per edition. Now, auto reporting is reduced to a report on one single vehicle in the entire edition. I guess CR realized that cars are not as important as they once were.
  • Fred Private equity is only concerned with making money. Not in content. The only way to deal with it, is to choose your sites wisely. Even that doesn't work out. Just look at AM/FM radio for a failing business model that is dominated by a few large corporations.
  • 3SpeedAutomatic Lots of dynamics here:[list][*]people are creatures of habit, they will stick with one or two web sites, one or two magazines, etc; and will only look at something different if recommended by others[/*][*]Generation Y & Z is not "car crazy" like Baby Boomers. We saw a car as freedom and still do. Today, most youth text or face call, and are focused on their cell phone. Some don't even leave the house with virtual learning[/*][*]New car/truck introductions are passé; COVID knocked a hole in car shows; spectacular vehicle introductions are history.[/*][*]I was in the market for a replacement vehicle, but got scared off by the current used and new prices. I'll wait another 12 to 18 months. By that time, the car I was interested in will be obsolete or no longer available. Therefore, no reason to research till the market calms down. [/*][*]the number of auto related web sites has ballooned in the last 10 to 15 years. However, there are a diminishing number of taps on their servers as the Baby Boomers and Gen X fall off the radar scope. [/*][/list]Based on the above, the whole auto publishing industry (magazine, web sites, catalogs, brochures, etc) is taking a hit. The loss of editors and writers is apparent in all of publishing. This is structural, no way around it.
  • Dukeisduke I still think the name Bzzzzzzzzzzt! would have been better.
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