The Latest Mobility Breakthrough: a 'Fiat'

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
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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”

— 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]

Steph Willems
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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.

  • Carsofchaos Bike lanes are in use what maybe 10 to 12 hours a day? The other periods of the day they aren't in use whatsoever. A bike can carry one person and a vehicle can carry multiple people. It's very simple math to figure out that a bike lane in no way shape or form will handle more people than cars will.The bigger issue is double parked delivery vehicles. They are often double parked and taking up lanes because there are cars parked on the curb. You combine that with a bike lane and pedestrians Crossing wherever they feel like it and it's a recipe for disaster. I think if we could just go back to two lanes of traffic things would flow much better. I started coming to the city in 2003 before a lot of these bike lanes were implemented and the traffic is definitely much worse now than it was back then. Sadly at this point I don't really think there is a solution but I can guarantee that congestion pricing will not fix this problem.
  • Charles When I lived in Los Angeles I saw a 9-5 a few times and instanly admired the sweeping low slug aerodynamic jet tech influenced lines and all that beautiful glass. The car was very different from what I expected from a Saab even though the 900 Turbo was nice. A casual lady friend had a Saab Sonnet, never drove or rode in it but nonetheless chilled my enthusiasm and I eventually forgot about Saabs. In the following years I have had seven Mercedes's, three or four Jaguars even two Daimlers both the 250 V-8 and the massive and powerful Majestic Major. Daily drivers of a brand new 300ZX 2+2 and Lincolns, plus a few diesel trucks. Having moved to my big farm in central New York, trucks and SUV's are the standard, even though I have a Mercedes S500 in one of my barns. Due to circumstances with my Ford Explorer and needing a second driver I found the 2006 9-5 locally. Very little surface rust, none undercarriage, original owner, garage kept, wife driver and all the original literature and a ton of paid receipts and history. The car just turned 200,000 miles and I love it. Feels new like I'm back in my Nissan 300ZX with a lot more European class and ready power with the awesome turbo. So fun to drive, the smooth power and torque is incredible! Great price paid to justify going through the car and giving her everything she needs, i.e., new tires, battery, all shocks, struts, control arms, timing chain and rust removable to come, plus more. The problem now is I want to restore it and likely put it in my concrete barn and only drive in good weather. As to the writer, Alex Dykes, I take great exception calling the 9-5 Saab "ugly," finding myself looking back at her beauty and uniqueness. Moreover, I get new looks from others not quite recognizing, like the days out west with my more expensive European cars. There are Saabs eclipsing 300K rourinely and one at a million miles and I believe one car with 500K on the original engine. So clearly, this is a keeper, in love already with my SportCombi. I want to be in that elite club.
  • Marky S. I own the same C.C. XSE Hybrid AWD as in this article, but in Barcelona Red with the black roof. I love my car for its size, packaging, and the fact that it offers both AWD and Hybrid technology together. Visibility is impressive, as is its small turning circle. I consider the C.C. more of a "station wagon" by proportion, rather than an “SUV.” It is fun to drive, with zippy response and perky pick-up. It is a pleasant car to drive and ride in. It is not trying to be a “Butch Off-Roader”, or a cosseting “Luxury Cruiser.” Those are not its goals or purpose. The Corolla Cross XSE Hybrid AWD is a wonderful All-Purpose Car (O.K. – “SUV” if you must hear me say it!) with a combination of all the features it has at a reasonable price.
  • Ernesto Perez There's a line in the movie Armageddon where Bruce Willis says " is this the best idea NASA came up with?". Don't quote me. I'm asking is this the best idea NY came up with? What's next? Charging pedestrians to walk in certain parts of the city? Every year the price for everything gets more expensive and most of the services we pay for gets worse. Obviously more money is not the solution. What we need are better ideas, strategies and inventions. You want to charge drivers in the city - then put tolls on the free bridges like the Brooklyn, Manhattan and Williamsburg bridges. There's always a better way or product. It's just the idiots on top think they know best.
  • Carsofchaos The bike lanes aren't even close to carrying "more than the car lanes replaced". You clearly don't drive in Midtown Manhattan on a daily like I do.