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E-scooter company Lime confirms it's 'going into electric cars'

Melody Hahm
Senior Writer

E-scooter company Lime is trying to get into the very industry it’s working to limit — cars.

“[We’re not] here to build companies for a year or two. It’s about building a platform. Lime is going into electric cars and diversifying. Our long-term view is over many form factors and vehicle types,” Caen Contee, Lime co-founder and VP of marketing, said during a panel at the annual Web Summit tech event in Lisbon, Portugal.

Lime, which first launched as a bike-sharing startup in January 2017, has since become a leader in the electric scooter space. Less than two years old, the company currently has a $1.1 billion valuation, making it one of the fastest to reach unicorn status.

And now it’s looking to get people to rent small electric cars made by Fiat Chrysler, which was first reported by The Information.

Lime and its top competitor Bird operate in 100 cities around the world but are notably absent from San Francisco, despite its headquarters being located there. The market-leading players that started the trend are still banned from the city.

Infographic: David Foster/Yahoo Finance

Overall, the industry is booming. This week, Ford (F) swooped up e-scooter company Spin, which operates across a dozen cities, for a reported $100 million. Bird, founded in September 2017, is the fastest startup to reach unicorn status — hitting the $1 billion mark in about eight months. Currently, the company has a $2 billion valuation after raising $415 million in 18 months, and it’s seeking hundreds of millions in new capital.

Funding to bike- and scooter-sharing startups has picked up substantially over the past two years, with 2018 seeing record levels of funding, according to research from CB Insights. Companies raised $3.7 billion across 44 equity rounds in 2018 so far. 

The industry’s financial exuberance stands in contrast with reports of flammable batteries, a proposed class-action lawsuit, and regulatory challenges.

“We are here to serve and in service we’re ultimately pro-regulation — we want to figure this out,” he said.

Though Lime operates bikes and scooters for now, electric car-sharing makes logical sense because the future is “multi-modal.”

“What’s going to win is a platform for innovation…creating trust, and the best service, enabling yourself to always innovate,” Contee said. “We’re creating that sense of urgency, that sense of ‘we’ in change.”

Melody Hahm is a senior writer at Yahoo Finance, covering entrepreneurship, technologyand real estate. Follow her on Twitter @melodyhahm.