After having to pull its entire fleet of electric scooters from multiple cities in Switzerland amid reports of unexpected braking, Lime is facing a similar problem in New Zealand. Auckland officials announced Friday that the city has temporarily suspended Lime’s licence following reports of rider injuries.
Lime reported 155 incidents of irregular breaking with its e-scooters, according to Auckland Council Chief Operating Officer Dean Kimpton. Riders were injured in 30 of those incidents, with just shy of 20 in Auckland alone, a news release said. Lime will need to meet several criteria for ensuring rider safety — including submitting to an independent review and reporting incident records — before the city will decide whether to lift the suspension.
The company addressed the issue in a blog post on Saturday, stating that it recently “detected a bug in the firmware of our scooter fleet that under rare circumstances could cause sudden excessive braking during use.”
“Through extensive analysis by both our internal team and outside experts, we diagnosed the issue in a laboratory environment and determined that in very rare cases — usually riding downhill at top speed while hitting a pothole or other obstacle—excessive brake force on the front wheel can occur, resulting in a scooter stopping unexpectedly,” the company said.
Lime appears to be downplaying the severity of injuries, writing that “most have been bumps and bruises.” But as Forbes noted, one man reportedly broke his jaw and suffered other injuries this month after he says a Lime scooter’s wheel locked up and threw him over the handlebars. He told Radio New Zealand that he “sat up, spat out a little blood and some teeth and walked on home” following the crash. He was reportedly restricted to a liquid diet while he healed.
Lime said that it has implemented firmware updates that “resulted in a material reduction of occurrences.” A final update to fix the bug will be applied to every scooter in the market in the coming days, the company said.
“The safety of people using e-scooters and those that share the environment with them is our number one priority,” Kimpton said of the suspension. “While we appreciate the amenity that e-scooters offer as an innovative transport solution, safety is not negotiable.”
Earlier this year, Lime pulled its scoots from the streets of Switzerland after unexpected breaking left riders injured, TechCrunch reported at the time. An email sent to customers and obtained by the site said the company was investigating whether the issue was the result of a software update that caused the scooters to reboot mid-ride and triggered theft protection.