Posted on Nov 19, 2020 at 8:00 p.m.
After three years of disheveled expansion followed in early 2020 by a rigorous cure to redress the accounts, Lime is finally profitable. The world leader in free-fleet scooters announced Thursday evening that they had posted positive operating income in the third quarter. German competitor Tier had made a similar announcement a few days earlier, but “We are the first to achieve this by taking into account the cost of acquisition and depreciation of our assets”, affirms to “Echoes” Ghassan Haddad, the head of public affairs for Europe. We are now aiming for profitability over the whole of 2021. “
This objective is a priori more difficult, because the rate of use of scooters, closely correlated to the weather, drops during the winter months. But “We are confident because we have managed to be profitable this summer despite the absence of tourists, who constitute a significant part of our clientele, in most of the cities where we operate”, indicates the leader.
Machines now more resistant
To bring its accounts into the green, Lime used several levers, starting with a severe reduction in costs. In early January, the company withdrew from 12 major cities and separated from around 100 employees, or 14% of its workforce. In addition, the scooters put into service are now more resistant, with an average lifespan which has gone from 6 months to more than 2 years, argues Ghassan Haddad, which obviously facilitates the amortization of the purchase cost. Their structure is now modular, allowing in the event of damage to change certain parts rather than having to withdraw the machine from circulation.
A new generation of scooters, which Parisians are the first in the world to discover since last week, should also generate a reduction in operating costs. The new model works with a removable battery, which will greatly facilitate recharging operations, especially since these batteries will be compatible with electric bikes. Jump, which Lime bought from Uber a few months ago.
An offer reinforced by Jump bikes
Being able to offer two micromobility modes on the same application is a real asset, explains Ghassan Haddad: “Providing multimodal service has increased the use rate of our platform. And in cities where the number of scooters in circulation is regulated, such as in Paris [5.000 engins pour chacun des trois opérateurs sélectionnés , NDLR], we can complete our offer by adding more bikes » numbering 2,000 today. Lime also benefits from its presence in the app of Uber, its main shareholder. Some 7% of its customers come from this channel.
After cleaning up these fundamentals, the company relaunched a dynamic of growth. It claims a presence in 120 cities around the world, and has recently set up its service in Chicago or Seattle in the United States, as well as in Manchester, Rome and Rotterdam in Europe.
In Europe, standoff with the German Tier
On this side of the Atlantic, the battle promises to be severe with Tier. The young German shoot has chosen to focus on the Old Continent, and has just successfully raised $ 250 million in funds to fuel its expansion. It is already present in 84 cities. “But if we take into account the turnover or the number of scooters deployed, we remain in Europe twice as large as the first of our competitors”, assures Ghassan Haddad.
Lime particularly wants to increase its presence in France. “We can now operate in cities of any size, argues the leader. We hope that municipalities will be encouraged to launch tenders under the new mobility law, and we aim for a presence in 5 to 6 new cities next year. “
A new mode of transport in the offer at the start of 2021
Paris, considered as “The world capital of micromobility”, by the company, retains a prominent place in the platform’s strategy. It claims 105,000 unique users each week, a figure which has logically fallen by two-thirds since the start of containment.
Lime also announces the arrival in its offer of a new mode of transport in the first quarter of 2021 (probably the electric scooter), and the capital will be among the first cities in the world to experience it.