May 28, 2020 - Economy & Business

Outrage over Uber's trashing of electric bikes

Row of JUMP electric bikes. Photo: ANNA-ROSE GASSOT/AFP via Getty Images

After Uber’s recent transfer of its JUMP division of bike and scooter rentals to rival Lime, Uber is disposing of thousands of its older electric bikes. 

Driving the news: Over the last few days, reports that stocks of JUMP bikes in several cities are getting scrapped have angered biking advocates. They see Uber's decision as a waste of some of the most beloved vehicles for shared use. 

What they’re saying: “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,” an Uber spokesperson said in a statement. 

  • The company is disposing of whatever vehicles Lime did not choose to purchase as part of the deal, and says it’s working with a firm that specializes in this type of recycling.  
  • Uber says that the proprietary design of the JUMP bikes and scooters means they require custom parts and only specially trained technicians can repair them, making it challenging and even unsafe to donate the vehicles to organizations or individuals.
  • It also says that there is no consumer-grade charging equipment available for its bikes.

Between the lines: Uber appears to have offloaded its bike and scooter division in the first place as a cost-cutting measure, so it's unlikely to take any steps that add to its costs.

  • Meanwhile, acquirer Lime also has to be vigilant about taking on additional costs given its precariousness amid the coronavirus pandemic. It likely took only the bikes it deemed essential to its operations. 
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