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Lime, one of the country's largest electric scooter rental companies, pulled part of its fleet off the streets over concerns a battery used in early versions of its scooters could smolder or catch fire, the company said Tuesday.
The billion-dollar start-up said it first became aware of a “potential issue” with batteries made by Segway Ninebot in August. Lime uses several different manufacturers for its scooters and bikes.
The affected scooters were in San Diego, Los Angeles, and the Lake Tahoe area and make up less than 0.01 percent of Lime’s fleet, according to the blog post.
While the issue affects just a small part of Lime’s fleet, the challenge was in identifying the scooters with potentially risky batteries and quickly removing them from the fleet. Lime said it worked with Segway Ninebot and independently to create software programs that identified and deactivated affected scooters.
“At no time were riders or members of the public put at risk,” the blog post said.
Lime said it will also no longer allow juicers, the people who make money for charging scooters and putting them back on the streets, to handle the scooters with Segway Ninebot batteries. Those will instead be charged at Lime facilities, according to the blog post.
It's an embarrassing setback for the one-year-old company, but it doesn't end there. Lime's blog post added that it is investigating an unconfirmed report that another model made by Segway Ninebot may also have battery issues.
It’s been a tumultuous year for the electric scooter industry. Scooters seemed to show up overnight in some cities, prompting officials to create regulations to rein in the onslaught of new scooters cluttering the streets and, in other cases, outright ban them.
But scooters are now becoming an integral part of some cities, with commuters using them as alternatives to driving, taking a rideshare, or using public transportation. And big tech has taken notice.
Uber and Alphabet were part of a $335 million investment round the company raised in July. Uber has also become a strategic partner with Lime, adding the ability for people to find nearby scooters using the Uber app.
Lime is valued at more than $1.1 billion. It operates in dozens of cities around the United States and at least 15 international locations, according to its website. Its chief rival, Bird, has been valued at more than $2.2 billion.