Lime unveils next-gen scooter as it continues to inch toward profitability

Lime unveiled its fourth-generation electric scooter with a swappable battery and enhanced safety features. The company also announced it was “cash flow positive” in the third quarter of 2020 — a sign that the scooter sharing giant is getting closer to becoming profitable for the first time.

In an appearance at The Wall Street Journal’s “Future of Everything” conference, Lime CEO Wayne Ting claimed to be the first mobility company to have a cash flow-positive quarter.

Being cash flow positive means Lime has more money going into the business at a given time than going out. But it’s not the same as having net income or being profitable after adjusting your earnings for interest and taxes, also known as EBIT. Lime expects to be profitable on an EBIT basis in 2021, a spokesperson confirmed.

the first mobility company to have a cash flow-positive quarter

Still, it’s a big milestone for Lime and should help cement its place as the scooter company to bet on going forward into the future. Profitability has eluded scooter companies since Bird kicked off the trend of shared electric scooters in late 2017.

The business has always been a money loser, with most companies relying on a hefty dose of venture capital to keep their operations afloat. The industry has been struggling to fix its unit economics, in which the purchase price for each scooter exceeded the amount of revenue it brought in before eventually breaking down.

Image: Lime

Lime says its fourth-generation scooter should help fix that problem. The addition of a swappable battery is a big step toward improving a shared electric scooter’s life span. That means Lime’s team of freelance chargers can just replace the battery with a fully charged one rather than collect the scooter every night and move it to another location for charging. Lime estimates the new scooter’s life span — or the length of time it stays in service before breaking down — will go beyond two years.

Other major changes include swept-back handlebars, reminiscent of bike handles, which Lime says makes for a more comfortable grip. It also has a dual hand brake system to make slowing and stopping easier and more immediate when needed. The baseboard is lower to improve the center of gravity. And a new kickstand with two legs should help prevent scooters from being tipped over when parked, which can help to reduce clutter on sidewalks.

The company aims to begin rolling out the new scooter in Paris first, followed by other European cities in the coming months. Ting also said that Lime was working on a “third and fourth mode” of shared transportation that would launch next year. Lime has said it doesn’t want to be just a scooter company; it sees itself as a “platform” for different kinds of micromobility. This winter, the Lime app will start allowing users in select cities to find and rent vehicles from third-party operators, beginning with pedal-free e-bikes from Wheels.

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