By on November 14, 2018

Image: FCA

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:

 

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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12 Comments on “The Latest Mobility Breakthrough: a ‘Fiat’...”


  • avatar
    ajla

    ALL-WEATHER MOBILITY SOLUTION = an ICE-only car from 2007.

  • avatar
    JMII

    Having a parking permit might make actually make this work in cities like San Fran where parking is a real challenge.

    But what happens when your rental is sitting on empty when you pick it up? Do you really think the previous driver is going to fill it up? Thus I predict every one of these will have no more then a gallon of gas in them at any given time.

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      If it’s anything like car2go (which, this sounds exactly like their business model), you should be able to see how much gas each car has before opening it up (either through the app or a small display in the windshield), and it’s rare to see a car below a quarter tank (assuming they’ll have a small team for cleaning and relocating the vehicles anyhow, there should also be a threshold for them to gas up the cars if previous clients haven’t).

    • 0 avatar
      indi500fan

      For the Lime scooters they have a squad of grunts that picks them up and charges them overnight and redistribute for the morning. I suppose those folks could dump 5 gals of gas in these Fiats (I’m assuming these are gas Fiats not battery Fiats)

  • avatar
    Yankee

    Come on, am I the only one who sees the irony of lemons being re-branded as limes?

  • avatar
    bobdod04

    so how is this a better option than uber? A 15 minute ride in Philly costs ~ $8 if I use Uber X. If I go with an express pool, its more like $3.50. A 15 minute ride in one of these pods will cost $1+(15*.4)=$7. Then you still have to look for parking…

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    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?

  • avatar
    golftdi

    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.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      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.

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