Accessory manufacturer Gomi is launching a limited edition Bluetooth speaker powered by batteries from old Lime e-bikes. In its announcement of the partnership, Lime says Gomi will use 50,000 battery cells from over 1,000 old e-bikes. The result is a Bluetooth speaker priced starting at £99 (around $138) that has 20 hours of battery life and will be available for 30 days as part of a Kickstarter launching later today.
It’s an interesting initiative that Lime hopes will further decrease the environmental impact of its shareable e-bikes, which are touted as a way of reducing reliance on cars for short journeys. In the past, other shared micromobility options like e-scooters have been criticized for their short lifespans, with one 2019 report estimating their average lifespan at around four months.
Although Lime says the speakers use “damaged” e-bike battery cells from its early-generation e-bikes, they’ve been cleaned and “rigorously tested” before being used in the speakers. The casing of the Gomi speakers is also made using 100 percent recycled plastic waste. Available in green, black, blue, and “birthday cake,” the speakers are covered by what Gomi calls a “repairs-for-life return service” which it says will “ensure they never need to be thrown away unnecessarily.”
E-bike batteries, like all rechargeables, have a limited number of charge cycles. VanMoof, for example, says the integrated batteries used in its S3 and X3 e-bikes are rated for over 800 charge cycles before falling below 70 percent (and eligible for replacement). As e-bike sales explode globally, it would certainly be better to repurpose those old diminished batteries instead of adding to the growing issue of e-waste.
Similar efforts are underway to find uses for old electric car batteries, GreenTechMedia reports. Companies like Nissan and Mercedes-Benz Energy have announced pilots to turn old car batteries into massive energy storage systems to help with fluctuations in power on the grid.