Lime is trailing shared electric motorbikes

Shared micromobility giant Lime is piloting electric motorbikes in Long Beach, California. Lime has been teasing a new form factor to cater to use cases outside of scooters and bikes for a while, so it’s no surprise to see the company test out a vehicle that’s sturdy and comfortable like a bike but easy to ride like a scooter.

The new vehicle, named Citra, also comes a few months after Lime quietly killed off its shared moped programs in New York City and Washington D.C. Lime had started to introduce mopeds to the mix in January 2021 as a vehicle that riders could tap for longer trips, but has settled for the moment on vehicles that are fit for the bike lane, according to a Lime spokesperson.

Lime has 1,000 vehicles on the ground in Long Beach, about half of which will be swapped with Citras, according to Lime. While Lime is definitely launching at scale there, the company has no plans to bring Citra to other locations just yet.

That might be because of the failure of the shared mopeds to take off, or it could be due to the similar nature of the Citra to Lime’s Gen4 e-bike, both of which have a top speed of 20 miles per hour.

The Citra does come with some upgraded features, however. For example, it rides more like a tiny, lightweight moped, and as such has no pedals and only moves forward with a throttle on the handlebars. The new vehicle also has a headlight, taillight, front and rear turn signals, a horn and a sealable rear compartment for storage.

Lime new e-vehicle Citra storage compartment

Lime’s new vehicle, Citra, is built with a rear, sealable storage compartment. Image Credit: Lime

“We’re hoping with the new vehicle to get more women riders, as well,” Russell Murphy, senior director of corporate communications, told TechCrunch. “We want women to see this as something that’s for them in a way that they might not with scooters. There are various components like the fact that it’s seated, it’s a bit lower to the ground, it appears visually a bit safer because you have this more robust vehicle under you, but it’s not as heavy as a moped.”

Providing form factors that suit women isn’t a bad way to increase ridership, especially considering that 79% of women reported not feeling safe using e-scooters, according to recent research from UK non-profit Women in Transport and micromobility company Voi.

Aside from attracting new users, Citra will be an example of how Lime could potentially save money on charging vehicles, the operational bane of every micromobility company’s existence. The Citra will be built with Lime’s new, bigger batteries, which Lime CEO Wayne Ting will discuss on the TC Sessions: Climate stage today.

The batteries, which Lime is also rolling out in Paris and Bordeaux this summer, have twice the capacity of Lime’s current batteries. They contain nearly 1 kWh capacity, up from 0.46 kWh now, which Lime says will lead to more time spent riding between chargers and fewer battery swaps needed from Lime’s operations team.

Lime has been testing its new batteries for the past six months in San Francisco, Antwerp and Le Havre, according to the company.

“We saw from riders who gave end-of-trip ratings that ratings were higher on vehicles that used the new battery,” said Murphy, noting this was especially true for trips that started with battery power under 30% that managed to not die mid-ride.

Vietnamese electric motorbike startup Dat Bike raises $2.6M led by Jungle Ventures

Son Nguyen, founder and chief executive officer of Dat Bike on one of the startup's motorbikes

Son Nguyen, founder and chief executive officer of Dat Bike

Dat Bike, a Vietnamese startup with ambitions to become the top electric motorbike company in Southeast Asia, has raised $2.6 million in pre-Series A funding led by Jungle Ventures. Made in Vietnam with mostly domestic parts, Dat Bike’s selling point is its ability to compete with gas motorbikes in terms of pricing and performance. Its new funding is the first time Jungle Ventures has invested in the mobility sector and included participation from Wavemaker Partners, Hustle Fund and iSeed Ventures.

Founder and chief executive officer Son Nguyen began learning how to build bikes from scrap parts while working as a software engineer in Silicon Valley. In 2018, he moved back to Vietnam and launched Dat Bike. More than 80% of households in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam own two-wheeled vehicles, but the majority are fueled by gas. Nguyen told TechCrunch that many people want to switch to electric motorbikes, but a major obstacle is performance.

Nguyen said that Dat Bike offers three times the performance (5 kW versus 1.5 kW) and 2 times the range (100 km versus 50 km) of most electric motorbikes in the market, at the same price point. The company’s flagship motorbike, called Weaver, was created to compete against gas motorbikes. It seats two people, which Nguyen noted is an important selling point in Southeast Asian countries, and has a 5000W motor that accelerates from 0 to 50 km per hour in three seconds. The Weaver can be fully charged at a standard electric outlet in about three hours, and reach up to 100 km on one charge (the motorbike’s next iteration will go up to 200 km on one charge).

Dat Bike’s opened its first physical store in Ho Chi Minh City last December. Nguyen said the company “has shipped a few hundred motorbikes so far and still have a backlog of orders.” He added that it saw a 35% month-over-month growth in new orders after the Ho Chi Minh City store opened.

At 39.9 million dong, or about $1,700 USD, Weaver’s pricing is also comparable to the median price of gas motorbikes. Dat Bike partners with banks and financial institutions to offer consumers twelve-month payment plans with no interest.

“These guys are competing with each other to put the emerging middle class of Vietnam on the digital financial market for the first time ever and as a result, we get a very favorable rate,” he said.

While Vietnam’s government hasn’t implemented subsidies for electric motorbikes yet, the Ministry of Transportation has proposed new regulations mandating electric infrastructure at parking lots and bike stations, which Nguyen said will increase the adoption of electric vehicles. Other Vietnamese companies making electric two-wheeled vehicles include VinFast and PEGA.

One of Dat Bike’s advantages is that its bikes are developed in house, with locally-sourced parts. Nguyen said the benefits of manufacturing in Vietnam, instead of sourcing from China and other countries, include streamlined logistics and a more efficient supply chain, since most of Dat Bike’s suppliers are also domestic.

“There are also huge tax advantages for being local, as import tax for bikes is 45% and for bike parts ranging from 15% to 30%,” said Nguyen. “Trade within Southeast Asia is tariff-free though, which means that we have a competitive advantage to expand to the region, compare to foreign imported bikes.”

Dat Bike plans to expand by building its supply chain in Southeast Asia over the next two to three years, with the help of investors like Jungle Ventures.

In a statement, Jungle Ventures founding partner Amit Anand said, “The $25 billion two-wheeler industry in Southeast Asia in particular is ripe for reaping benefits of new developments in electric vehicles and automation. We believe that Dat Bike will lead this charge and create a new benchmark not just in the region but potentially globally for what the next generation of two-wheeler electric vehicles will look and perform like.”