Lime, the leading rental electric bikes and scooter operator, has announced its plans to suspend its operations in South Korea starting from June 30th. The company has blamed constantly changing traffic rules and varied local government policies for the tentative withdrawal of operations.
It is worth mentioning that Lime's client base plummeted people driving electric scooters were compelled to wear helmets under a new law that went into effect in 2021. Meanwhile, scooter rental providers have also expressed dissatisfaction with the unpredictability associated with municipal towing laws.
For those unaware, Seoul announced in March that e-scooters would be given a 60-minute grace period before being towed, which was then revoked one day later. Last year, Lime's towage sales were reduced by 10 to 20% as a result of Seoul's new policy.
In 2022, policies regarding minimum age and licenses were also changed. This makes the e-scooter rental industry an unpredictable business space given the constantly changing landscape, experts claimed.
Shared scooter operators in Korea are found to have become increasingly frustrated since relevant rules change regularly, making it difficult for them to maintain a stable business. Since 2019, the Road Traffic Act has been regularly changing for e-scooter users.
Industry experts also accused the government’s lack of knowledge of the shared e-scooter industry of the constant law revisions that inhibit the shared micro-mobility sector's growth.
Lime made it quite clear that the shutdown was just temporary, but it did not specify when it would resume operations. The firm further added that as South Korea's micro-mobility industry evolves, it expects to return with improved services and devices.
Meanwhile, Lime isn't the only company to pull out of South Korea's micro-mobility sector. Neuron Mobility, a Singapore-based rental e-scooter services provider, and Germany’s Wind had ended their operations in 2021.