Madrid, the third-largest city in the European Union has just received in its streets the arrival of a new electric rental vehicle, Lime. This service of shared electric scooters without fixed stations is financed by Alphabet and Uber.
Lime is already available in other cities of Europe like Vienna, Bordeaux, Paris, Zurich, Berlin and Prague, as well as the United States. Their aim is “to reduce dependence on personal automobiles for short distance transportation and leave future generations with a cleaner, healthier planet.”
IE students have not been oblivious to this trend and are starting to embed it into the University’s culture.
How did they first notice this phenomenon?
“I just saw it everywhere. I was curious and I looked it up, and eventually, I downloaded the app,” said Christopher Aschenbrenner, BBA student from Madrid Campus.
“I read it in an article in The Financial Times, as it had won a contract in Silicon Valley and San Francisco to work there and I saw it beat Uber,” acknowledged Clemente Gilardini, 2nd-year student from Segovia Campus.
How does it work exactly?
First, you download the app and then it displays a map with all the scooters available. It lets you see the approximate kilometers that will allow you to travel with the amount of energy they have.
“You select one and ring a bell to hear it if you can’t find it. Then, you scan the QR code on the handle. It’s all linked through the app, it tracks where you go, and when you drop it off, you have to take a photo of it. It is simple to use,” explained Olivia Glowacka, from Segovia Campus.
The service works from 5 am to 9 pm. During the night, the electric scooters are collected to be recharged and checked for maintenance controls. In fact, the company has been offering jobs in Madrid, for salaries of between 500€ and 1,000€ a week to be a “Lime Juicer” or, in other words, the electric scooter recharging personnel.
“People can sign up for the program, pick them up and charge them, and they get a fee per scooter that they charge in their homes. You just need a car and a driving license. It is quite smart as when you have the scooter, Lime sends them the new location, and they redistribute the scooters evenly,” explained Chris Aschenbrenner.
Alone or with friends?
People claimed that Lime can be hard to get due to the high demand and lack of availability in all areas of Madrid. However, this is compensated because of its sustainability, its speed (37 miles/hour or 60 km/hour) and mostly because you can use it alone or with other people.
“You can use it alone or with friends, I use it with both,” commented Christopher, and added, “people run over to get the scooters to get one. Sometimes you hardly find one because they are all used up.”
Is this something people really use or is it just for pose?
The price for each Lime is 1€ to unlock the scooter and 0,15€ per minute used. The general opinion was that it is cheap, and way more sustainable than other means of transport. The students explained that they used it for fun and for time management issues.
“It’s the Uber of electric scooters, I always use it to have a tour, to have fun or to be on time for class,” said Roberto Sokmen, first-year BBA student from Madrid Campus.
“I use it very often, I’ve been in Madrid for one month and I used it for over 55 km, so nearly every day […]. You think you don’t spend too much but in the end it all adds up,” remarked Christopher.
“It is sustainable because at the end of your ride it shows you how much carbon grams you saved,” noted Olivia.
There’s no rose without a thorn
Not everything about Lime is good. The students came up with four of the main problems of this service:
- It can be hard to ride on busy streets.
- It is difficult to get and someone else might get the one you wanted before you are able to arrive.
- People leave them anywhere, even sidewalks, and this blocks the streets.
- Some people do not know how to drive it.
Laws and regulations still have to decide the future of Lime in Madrid for these reasons, but meanwhile, take a ride and try it out if you can. Do you think this is just a trend or is it here to stay? Have they discovered the new way to cut carbon emissions? Let’s wait and see.