Uber is adding electric scooters to its stable of transportation options. According to Bloomberg, the ride-hail giant is investing in Lime in a new $335 million round of financing led by Alphabet’s venture arm, GV, that values the electric scooter company at $1.1 billion. Under the deal, Lime’s e-scooters will become available to rent on Uber’s app.
A spokesperson for Uber confirmed the deal, and Lime published a blog post announcing some details about the investment. Uber also plans on slapping its logo on some of Lime’s lightweight electric scooters, though it won’t say how many or in which cities the partnership will be rolled out to first. Lime is based in Sam Mateo, California, and its scooters can be found in 70 cities in the US and Europe.
It’s another sign of Uber’s growing multimodal ambitions. The company acquired dockless bike-share company Jump in April after testing out a partnership for two months. Uber also recently announced a multimillion-dollar effort to encourage drivers to switch to electric cars. Uber’s investment in Lime follows news that archrival Lyft acquired Motivate, the largest bike-share operator in the US.
“Our investment and partnership in Lime is another step towards our vision of becoming a one stop shop for all your transportation needs,” said Rachel Holt, the former head of Uber’s North America ride-hailing business who’s now leading scooter and bike-rental efforts along with public transportation partnerships. “Lime already has an expansive footprint, and we’re excited to incorporate their scooters into the Uber app so consumers have another fast, affordable option to get around their city, especially to and from public transit.”
Uber’s partnership with Lime may surprise some close watchers of the brewing scooter wars, especially considering the company’s main competitor Bird was founded by a former Uber executive. Last month, both Uber and Lyft applied for permits to operate e-scooters in San Francisco. It’s unclear whether Lime’s scooters would qualify Uber for the permit or whether Jump would need to expand its product lineup to include scooters for the program.
Many cities have been wrangling with the flood of unregulated scooters that have appeared on sidewalks in droves in recent months. Customers can unlock the scooters using a smartphone app for as little as $1, and trips typically cost around 10 cents per minute of riding. Some experts believe city dwellers would begin using scooters to replace shorter ride-share trips made by Uber and Lyft, which helps explain why those companies are now investing heavily in this space.
Alphabet’s growing presence in the multimodal world is almost equally noteworthy. Bloomberg reports that GV’s investment in Lime exceeds Uber’s, and GV partner Joe Kraus is joining Lime’s board. With investments in navigation, ride-sharing, electric vehicles, and navigation, the tech giant is increasingly becoming a “superpower” in transportation, a mobility expert recently told CNBC.