Lime loses out to Uber for Wellington trial

About 400 of Uber's Jump scooters will be trialled on Wellington streets. Photo: YouTube
About 400 of Uber's Jump scooters will be trialled on Wellington streets. Photo: YouTube

Uber is bringing its e-scooter brand to New Zealand.

"Jump by Uber" is one of two e-scooter companies joining a Wellington City Council trial. The other is locally-owned start-up Flamingo, backed by local entrepreneurs Nick Hyland and Jackson Love.

A six-month e-scooter trial will start in the capital in mid-June.

Lime - despite being part-owned by Uber - is fuming at being missed out.

"We are shocked and disappointed not to have been chosen as one of the operators to take part in Wellington's electric scooter trial," Lime NZ public affairs manager Lauren Mentjox told The New Zealand Herald.

"Lime has been working closely with the council for more than six months to bring our premium service to the city.

"Since we launched in the Hutt Valley, we have seen more than 170,000 trips with more than 40,000 riders, and more than two million rides in New Zealand.

"As the only operator of record, we have 20 staff and hundreds of people in our juicer community who are ready to go. This is a loss for the entire region."

Lime scooters returned to Auckland and Dunedin streets in early March after a week's suspension following a (now-resolved) bug that saw 31 injured due to braking issues. 

Council chief operating officer Dean Kimpton said he wanted to hear about any further issues from Lime rather than through the media.

Lime scooters are back on Dunedin streets. Photo: James Hall
Lime scooters are back on Dunedin streets. Photo: James Hall

In the Wellington trial, Flamingo will charge $1 then 30c minute - the same as recent Auckland arrival Wave, and Lime, which is part of trials in Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin and Lower Hutt.

Jump by Uber had yet to reveal its pricing.

Uber spokeswoman Nicky Preston said about 400 Jump scooters would be on Wellington streets.

"We do not have any immediate plans to launch in other New Zealand cities," she says.

"We will continue discussions with city officials and look for new ways to support Kiwis and sustainable transport options for our cities."

The San Francisco-based Jump was bought by Uber in April last year for $US200 million ($NZ291 million).

Uber, along with Google and various venture capitalists, is also a major investor in Lime.

A representative for Flamingo said unlike Wave (which licenses technology and an app from US e-scooter giant Bird), the Wellington startup is creating its own app for a fleet of Segway Ninebot scooters (the Chinese-made Ninebot being the dominant brand across the e-scooter industry. It's also used by Lime and Bird).

Flamingo also has a trial licence for 400 e-scooters.

The startup plans to expand to other centres once it had established in the capital.

For its part, Uber plans to develop self-driving e-scooters and e-bikes, that will be able to return to popular pickup points on autopilot after being left at a far-flung location or recharging point.


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