Lime, one of the leading electric scooter rental companies, took about 2,000 scooters out of service this summer after discovering a risk that their batteries could catch fire, due to weak welding attaching the batteries to the scooters by the manufacturer, Segway Ninebot. Lime disclosed the issue after The Washington Post spoke with Lime mechanics that raised questions about safety. Lime said it only affected a small portion of the scooters. Bird, which also uses Segway Ninebot scooters, told The Information it didn’t believe its vehicles were affected.
Safety problems like this create business model questions, because Bird and Lime have generally tried to keep charging costs low by having independent contractors charge scooters inside their homes, not at central facilities. Lime said in future its Segway Ninebot scooters would only be charged inside scooter storage facilities. Still, the issue may force companies to move more quickly on making their own scooter parts, decreasing reliance on Chinese manufacturers.