As Lyft struggles with electric bikes, Uber is upgrading its batteries to make them lighter and more easy to charge

Uber Jump bike scooterGraham Rapier / Business Insider

Uber appears to be taking the lead on rentable, electric bicycles.

On Wednesday, the company announced a new battery for its Jump bikes as well as a completely new scooter model with bigger, more rugged wheels and heftier brakes.

The new bike batteries can be swapped by anyone, even riders, instead of the vehicles needing a trip to a warehouse in order to be plugged in to a physical charger.

Uber Jump scooters and bikeGraham Rapier/Business Insider

"This saves us a ton of time, allowing us to keep more bikes charged and on the road for users," Rachel Holt, Uber's head of new mobility, said on stage at the company's Elevate conference in Washington D.C. on Wednesday.

Uber's latest investments in the Jump system, which it acquired in April 2018, come as its closest competitor, Lyft, struggles with electric bikes.

In March, after several riders were seriously injured on the company's electric Citi Bikes in New York, the company voluntarily pulled the models from all cities where it operates, including Washington D.C., San Francisco, Chicago, and more across the country. The only timeline provided for their return in New York has been "this fall," a spokesperson told Business Insider at the time.

Uber, meanwhile, is all in.

Holt said that by next year the company hopes to have battery kiosks distributed throughout a city, where anyone, even riders, can swap waning batteries for freshly charged cells.

"A courier that has a few minutes before an order they could easily pick up a battery and swap," Holt said, adding that Uber is "not just stopping with bikes and scooters. Our vision with Uber is to provide a truly multi modal transportation platform."

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