Uber is destroying tens of thousands of its electric Jump bikes after selling part of its bike hire business to Lime and the bicycles proved surplus to requirement.
Videos of the red bikes being crushed at a recycling centre in the USA emerged on social media, with Uber saying the decision was made to destroy its older models because of maintenance, liability and safety issues.
The decision to scrap the bikes has been criticised by charities who have suggested the bikes could have been donated to those in need or even sold to individuals to kickstart the electric bike revolution.
The coronavirus pandemic is set to reduce public transport capacity and put greater emphasis on bike transportation, but global supply disruptions in bike manufacturing will lead to a “severe bike shortage” in the USA, according to the New York Times.
The sale of Jump to Lime, another bike-sharing company, appears to affect the US portion of the business as Uber will continue to operate the Jump bikes in the UK and has not scrapped any that have been present on British streets.
As part of the deal, Lime received tens of thousands of Jump bikes as well as intellectual property, yet there were still thousands of bicycles that were not transferred over. In addition to the sale, Uber led a $170m investment round in Lime, which saw the bike-sharing company’s valuation fall by nearly 80 per cent.
Uber had bought Jump in 2018 for $200 million, which had 12,000 bikes in 40 cities across six countries, but was a money loser, and the bike-sharing company has recently laid off most of its 400-plus employees.
“We explored donating the remaining, older-model bikes,” Uber said in a statement. “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.”