Global electric scooter operators are entering South Korea’s micro-mobility market, intensifying competition in the bike-sharing market.
According to industry sources, US-based e-scooter and bike company Lime is gearing up for its debut in Korea. The company is expected to announce the launch on Oct. 1 in Seoul.
Lime has been preparing to enter the Korean market and has been recruiting local employees since earlier this year. Currently, the company is operating in more than 120 cities in over 30 countries around the world.
“As the first employee of Lime Korea, I do have a sense of responsibility for establishing a micro-mobility program and resolving urban transportation issues,” Lime Korea’s External Policy Manager Kwon Ki-hyun was quoted as saying during a meeting with Seoul government officials earlier this month.
People riding e-scooters on the street Lime
If Lime proceeds with its service launch in Korea as planned, it will be the third global e-scooter company to begin operations here. Singapore’s Beam and Germany’s Wind are currently offering micro-mobility services here.
The global companies’ foray here is driven by the market potential. With its massive urban population and information technology infrastructure, Seoul and its surrounding areas can provide adequate infrastructure for micro-mobility services.
According to the Korean Transport Institute, about 300 thousand micro-mobility vehicles will become available in Korea for sharing by 2022. Its market volume will reach 600 billion (some $500 million) at that time, the institute estimated.
“Korea is a unique market for us,” Beam CEO Alan Jiang said during a tech conference in Seoul on Sept. 18, stressing that it is the only country where Beam provides a 24-hour e-scooter sharing service “We have already crossed the break-even point in two months.”