Shared e-scooters service company Lime has just launched a new weekly subscription plan. The company has rolled out a weekly pass with unlimited free unlocks for 7.99 BGN (€4.08). The subscription plan has been just introduced to Europe, after a roll out in the US at the end of the year.
“With our new LimePass service, we’re proud to offer them [our customers] a more cost-efficient way to get around town and manage their busy schedules,” said Kevin Shi, Product Manager at Lime. It’s the first such weekly subscription pass to launch in the micro-mobility industry. But is it really more affordable and what sense does it make for the company?
How does it work?
The Lime Week Pass offers unlimited free scooter unlocks, which would save the rider 1.5 BGN in Bulgaria, typically around €1 in other markets, but not the per-minute fee. Depending on how often a rider uses Lime, the subscription can pay for itself in as little as 2-3 days, reads a blog post by the company. In the local context, this means the user should ride 7 times in 2-3 days, live and work near the center of Sofia. According to the company’s own statements in September, in the first two months on the market in Sofia (which were btw warm months), Lime registered 10k trips and expanded to 300 e-scooters.
Since the launch of the service in the Bulgarian capital last summer, there has been a lot of criticism regarding the prices of Lime (1.5 BGN per unlock, 0.30 BGN per minute). In an interview with us, Tamas Toth, the regional manager for Lime, stated that not only the prices of Lime wouldn’t be reduced in Bulgaria or any other market, but on the contrary – they could rise (read the interview).
Although Lime’s offering may be the first weekly subscription in the e-scooter space, Hobo, the Bulgarian competitor, has introduced monthly subscriptions soon after its start in September. For 60 BGN a month, users can enjoy an unlimited number of unlocks and 6 hours of free riding.
What’s going on with the e-scooters?
The new subscription model reminds a bit of the sport cards that many users pay for without actually going to the gym. Yet, is that really Lime’s attempt to make micro-mobility more accessible to its loyal customers or the company is experimenting with different models at hard times?
Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that the electric scooter-rental startup was laying off 14% of its workforce as it pulls out of a dozen markets in the U.S., Latin America, and Austria. And this is a trend affecting not only Lime. Competitors including Bird Rides Inc. and Lyft Inc., have also laid-off workers or closed operations in markets during the past year.