Uber wants to be the transportation company for everyone, no matter how passengers get where they’re going. That’s why the app will now give e-bikes and e-scooters the same prominence as car trips in two cities.
Uber will show rentable e-bikes and e-scooters on the app’s home screen map in Atlanta and San Diego Monday. If the test goes well in the months ahead, Uber said it hopes to expand it broadly in cities with e-bikes and e-scooters. Highlighting e-scooters — including ones from competitor Lime — as alternatives to Uber’s core ridehailing business, serves as a reminder of Uber’s desire to become a one-stop shop for transportation. Uber wants to be the business of choice whether a person takes a car, bike, scooter, train, helicopter or bus.
Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi previously said it aims to become the “Amazon of transportation,” a reference to how Amazon started by selling books before it expanded to sell almost everything. One in five Uber trips is under a mile and nearly half are under three miles, according to the company. Uber said last year that new e-bike riders take fewer car trips, especially during rush hour — a change it welcomed.
“If somebody opens the app and maybe historically they would’ve taken an Uber that would’ve gotten stuck in traffic and instead they take a Lime scooter that may get them there faster, that’s really a success for us,” Billy Guernier, head of new mobility at Uber, told CNN Business.
To see nearby bikes and scooters, Uber users had to previously click a small button and be sent to a secondary screen. Uber’s effort to make e-bikes and e-scooters more prominent may encourage users to take them more often, especially for short trips. Uber’s competitor Lyft achieved record bikeshare ridership in New York after integrating bikes into its app this spring.
The potential shift may prove popular with Uber drivers, who generally prefer longer, more profitable trips where profits tend to be larger. Guernier said Uber would consider the test in Atlanta and San Diego a success if more customers opened the app and book whatever type of transportation makes the most sense for them.
Uber expanded into car alternatives in 2018 when it bought the bikeshare startup Jump and then launched its own e-scooters in cities in the same year. Users in Denver can compare public transportation routes on buses and trains through the app and buy a ticket. It also launched “Uber Bus,” a shuttle van service in which riders can reserve seats, in Cairo, Egypt and Monterrey, Mexico.
Uber is also developing flying cars. It expects passengers to opt for autonomous, electric flying vehicles because of low prices and faster travel times. Lime is currently the only e-scooter competitor Uber will promote in its app. Uber invested in the company in July 2018. It will receive a percentage of each transaction when Lime riders book trips through Uber. “We’re thinking about what is best for consumers ultimately,” he said. “How do we make sure they can see the closest and best transportation options?