Singapore now has a third bike-sharing company in just a few months.
One of China’s largest bike-sharing firms, Mobike launched here on Tuesday, adding to the growing list of bike-sharing companies that have mushroomed.
Like many of its competitors, the bikes are stationless, so users are meant to just leave them on the side of the street and walk away when they’re done.
But this convenience has led to issues like theft and even vandalism in countries like China, with many hogging the bikes by locking them in their private compounds.
Mobike, which deals with this issue in China on a daily basis, seems confident that its bikes’ smarts will help it counter the problem.
“We have the technology advantage,” said Florian Bohnert, Head of International Expansion of Mobike.
Every Mobike is equipped with GPS and cellular data, allowing the company to monitor each one 24/7.
“Because the bike is connected in real-time, we can check the health status of each bike — whether its opened or locked, if it’s being ridden, or if there’s a defect. We can remotely shut the bike down,” Bohnert said.
The bike’s GPS even tracks altitude, so if someone steals a bike and takes it upstairs, Mobike will know. And they’ve sent staff members to knock on doors before to get bikes back.
The company declined to reveal how many bikes it has currently launched around Singapore.
Mobike requires a $35 deposit for each bike, with each trip costing $0.35 every 30 minutes. It’s being touted as a promotional launch price, but Bohnert declined to say when that would end.
But how does the company expect to turn a profit with such low costs?
“We’ve partnered with Foxconn, which has helped us ramp up our annual production capacity to 10 million bikes, so [this leads to] economies of scale,” he said.
“Our bikes also require minimal maintenance. The solar panel powers the lock, the body is full aluminium so it doesn’t rust, the tyres are airless so they’re puncture free — all these help keep costs down.”
Singapore is the first city outside China that the company has launched in, though it adds that it has plans to bring bikes to more cities around the world.
“We can’t say which cities we’re planning on expanding to,” said Bohnert. “But we want to help solve problems like traffic congestion and pollution, so [there are a number of cities] we believe could use our solution.”