Lime hopes to add on-road two-seater rideshare “pod” cars to its fleet of electric scooters that have caused mixed amounts of adoration and anger in Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington and Dunedin.
It’s been reported that Lime wants to bring in a fleet of two-seater Fiat 500 cars to Auckland, and wants the council to provide it parking spaces in the city
But Victoria Carter, founder of the Cityhop rideshare business, now owned by Toyota Financial Services, says the country already has rideshare.
Like Ikea, earlier this month, foreign companies launching into New Zealand can command big headlines reporting their intentions, no matter that they may be months, or even years away.
Lime launched its LimePods in the US last year, but Cityhop began more than a decade ago in New Zealand in late 2006.
And if Lime convinces councils to give it the parking spaces it needs to launch a viable service in Kiwi cities, Carter believed it would be because of the foundations laid by Cityhop.
The argument Lime will use will be the one Cityhop won its spaces with, Carter believes.
“Every Cityhop car is taking 9-15 privately-owned cars off the road,” Carter said.
It’s a public service argument, but it has been hard won.
In Auckland, she said: “I had to fight for 10 years. That’s why we have been so slow to grow. It takes us so long to get car parks.”
Even now, getting new car parks is a major task.
“Every designated space takes between nine months and two years,” Carter said.
Lime appeared to be planning a different model to Cityhop, though like Cityhop, it used App-based keyless car technology to unlock and start vehicles.
Users would search for cars using their phones, just like Cityhop users.
There appear to be differences in the service Lime is hoping to launch in New Zealand’s major cities when compared to Cityhop.
Limepod’s two-seater Fiats contrast to the range of vehicles Cityhop offers.
Carter said Cityhop had small cars, medium-sized cars and large cars, so that any journey a Wellingtonian, or Aucklander wants to take can be catered for. It even has vans for people wanting to shift flat.
The Cityhop model was a borrow and return model, the same that had proved economic in Sydney where there are more than 3000 rideshare cars, Carter said.
Cityhop is not the only rideshare business in New Zealand.
Mevo in Wellington also runs a service.
There’s also Yoogo in Auckland, specialising in electric car rideshares.