"Micromobility" start-up Lime is encouraging Los Angeles residents to ditch their cars for electric scooters in its first U.S. ad campaign.
LA is one of the most congested cities in the world, per a ranking by Inrix, and that is causing a loneliness problem, according to San Francisco-based Lime.
Lime, which is valued at $2.4 billion but is not yet profitable, has launched its "See You There" ad campaign, encouraging LA residents to get involved in their communities by leaving their cars at home and exploring via other modes of transport.
Lime's 2018 year-end report suggests that two out of five LA riders use its products to replace travel by car, and on average each person travels more than 5 miles.
"The 'See You There' campaign features colorful ads and events that encourage passersby to ditch the car for a more creative and connective urban experience," the company said in a blog post Tuesday.
"Having lived in LA, it can definitely feel isolating because you spend the vast majority of time in traffic or congestion," according to the company's Chief Marketing Officer Duke Stump in the post. "We felt like there was an opportunity to celebrate how mobility and Lime actually can be a positive source of good around connection."
Billboards are running in some of LA's well-known neighborhoods such as Santa Monica, Venice, Hollywood and Downtown. Lime has also published an LA city guide and will run events in an effort to bring communities together as well as courses on how to ride scooters safely, while hand-painted murals stating "Everyone is already here," will also appear in parts of the city.
Investors are scrambling to put money into Lime and its competitors, but current operating costs outstrip revenues for electric scooter companies according to a February report by research company Ark Invest. It suggested that micromobility company Bird makes $2.43 per mile, but its costs are currently $2.55 per mile, for example.
Lime was founded in January 2017 and is the largest company of its kind. According to CEO Brad Bao, who spoke to CNBC's Karen Tso on Monday, it will be profitable next year. As well as Bird, competitors include Jump, owned by Uber, and San Francisco-based Spin, but Bao said the market is "enormous." "The market opportunity will have a lot of room for a lot of players," he told Tso.
Lime's electric scooters and bicycles are available in 30 countries, but its products are not legally allowed to be ridden everywhere. The U.K. does not currently permit electric scooters to be ridden on public sidewalks or highways, but Lime bikes are available in London and Milton Keynes. Bird has run a trial program with electric scooters in London's Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, permitted because it is private land.
Singapore banned the riding of e-scooters on sidewalks this week and France also has strict rules around their usage.