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Uber junks thousands of bikes

Joseph Delves
28 May 2020

American rental scheme Jump destroys bikes following sale to competitor Lime

Uber has junked thousands of its distinctive red Jump bikes. Having recently been acquired by rival rental fleet operator Lime, the bikes were judged surplus to requirements.

The move comes after the US arm of Jump was acquired by Lime in a complex deal that saw Uber invest $170m in the firm while divesting itself of tens of thousands of bikes.

While Lime will continue to use many former Jump bikes, thousands are currently being crushed and recycled for scrap.

At a time when bike shops have been cleared out due to coronavirus, many have questioned why the bikes couldn’t have been donated.

Estimated to cost around £2,000 each to produce, despite having their batteries removed, most appeared mechanically sound.

Uber claims to have explored the possibility of donating the bikes but found it too difficult. However, that the bikes were beyond use was disputed by a former employee quoted on Vice's Motherboard website.

It’s not the first time that bike rental companies have come in for criticism for the perceived dumping of bikes. During the early days of such schemes, photos of stacks of abandoned bikes in China suggested a situation of significant oversupply.

In the UK, Uber continues to operate Jump and has not scrapped any bikes. However, elsewhere in Europe its Brussels outpost recently closed, with its bikes leaving town, along with an estimated 40-50 staff who found themselves made redundant.

The largest ride-hailing app in the world, despite being valued at over £60 billion Uber has never generated a profit. Having already reported significant losses last year, the coronavirus related downturn in its core taxi business has also seen it lay off around 3,700 staff worldwide.

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