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Red Jump bicycle closeup

Uber scraps thousands of e-bikes following Lime deal

Image credit: Cody Engel/Unsplash

Uber is in the process of scrapping thousands of electric bikes and scooters after selling its Jump business to Lime.

Uber’s Jump business, which it acquired for $200m in April 2018, offers dockless electric bike and scooter sharing via the Jump or Uber apps. The vehicles are instantly recognisable for their bright coral-red bodies. The purchase of Jump seemed to indicate a move towards more environmentally friendly urban transport for Uber, which said at the time that it would focus more on its e-bike and scooter business than its core car services.

However, Uber sold Jump to US transport company Lime - which also offers electric bike and scooter sharing - this month.

As part of the deal, Lime will acquire tens of thousands of recent Jump bikes (which CEO Wayne Ting has expressed an aesthetic preference for over Lime’s own green bikes) as well as the associated IP and some employees. Uber will reportedly have the option to acquire Lime in the future.

Although many Jump e-bikes will be taken on by Lime, there are reportedly tens of thousands of older e-bike models that Lime will not inherit. Now, videos have emerged of thousands of these e-bikes being taken to the Foss Recycling centre in North Carolina for crushing. Former Jump employees have claimed that between 20,000 and 30,000 e-bikes are being scrapped.

The videos have angered cyclists, charities, and environmental activists, who argue that they should have been repurposed, donated, or sold “sight unseen” (with the buyer accepting risk) to boost uptake of e-bikes. Jon Orcutt of Bike New York told Motherboard: “Why not at least peel the decals off and sell the bikes to individuals?”

Bounce, which operates bike and scooter sharing in India, has been selling its old bicycles for a small sum (less than £10) as it shifts towards electric scooters.

Uber said in a statement: “We explored donating the remaining, older-model bikes but given many significant issues – including maintenance, liability, safety concerns and a lack of consumer-grade charging equipment – we decided the best approach was to responsibly recycle them.”

The Bike Share Museum, which covers reuse of retired bicycle from share schemes, has questioned whether it is only older bicycles which are being scrapped. The group argues that as the next-generation Jump 5.8 model was never fully in service, the Jump 5.5 models (which appear to be shown being sent for scrapping in the videos) cannot be said to belong to an older generation.

Uber continues to operate Jump in the UK as the Lime deal has not been completed in Europe.

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