Can bike sharing survive in China?
Mobike and others raise fees to save business following collapse of the once-leading Ofo
The business of bike sharing is a tough nut to crack almost anywhere in the world. But nowhere is the industry’s rise and bust as dramatic as in China, where the number of startups have gone from more than 60 to a handful in the span of just three years. Can any of the survivors make it in the long run?
In the latest bid to turn around their businesses, Mobike, Hellobike and Bluegogo are all raising hourly fees to between 30 and 40 US cents, doubling previous rates.
(Abacus is a unit of the South China Morning Post, which is owned by Alibaba, a backer of Hellobike and Bluegogo’s owner Didi Chuxing.)
Regardless of what customers think, it seemed inevitable that companies would have to raise prices sooner or later.
Ofo is now practically out of the competition, which is good news for Mobike and the other bike sharing companies trying to soldier on. Whether any of them can win in this market, though, remains an open question.
Perhaps in the near future, gone will be the days of bright-colored shared bikes strewn across every Chinese street corner. This would mean less wastage and congestion, but it’s also less convenient for consumers hoping to find a dockless bike wherever they happen to be.
Some users already say they will quit using shared bikes if they are forced to use fixed docking stations.