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China continues its growing ascendancy in global bike-sharing market

By Ouyang Shijia | China Daily | Updated: 2018-03-09 09:32
Bicycles from the bike-sharing companies Mobike and Ofo on the street in Shanghai on Feb 1, 2017. [Photo/VCG]

China has now emerged as a global leader in the bike-sharing sector, led by local firms that have ramped up their efforts to expand the booming business model to overseas markets, according to a new report.

The report, released by mobile research institution Cheetah Lab on Wednesday, shows that Chinese bike-sharing behemoth Ofo Inc has taken the top spot in the industry globally, reporting the highest weekly active penetration rate. Its arch rival Mobike Technology Co Ltd ranked second.

The weekly active penetration rate measures the number of weekly active users of the app divided by the total number of weekly active users in the whole bike-sharing industry on the Android platform. The report said the weekly active penetration rate surged significantly by 2,440 percent in the overseas market during the last quarter of 2017.

"There is plenty of room for growth in the bike-sharing market, especially the overseas markets. And Chinese companies will become the driving force," said Quan Jing, Cheetah Lab's executive president.

According to the report, the global number of shared bike users increased to 227 million in 2017, and the figured is expected to grow to 306 million by 2019. Cheetah Lab highlighted the huge potential in the overseas markets, estimating the bike-sharing industry would be able to see a spike in overseas users by five to 10 times in the next two years.

Cheetah Lab noted that Asia, including the world's second most populous country India, will become a hotly contested battlefield for various bike-rental companies in the future.

Quan said during a recent meeting for the industry in Beijing that, as competition in the local market is heating up, Chinese companies are increasingly seeking opportunities abroad to create new momentum.

Beijing-based Mobike announced on Wednesday its official launch of bike-rental services on the streets of Chile's capital Santiago, with a plan to gradually set up 100 smart parking spots in the future.

Mobike's orange dockless shared bikes are now crowding sidewalks in more than 200 cities in countries including Singapore, the United Kingdom, Germany and Australia.

Users in overseas markets will be able to scan a quick response code via the downloaded app and pay online using a smartphone to take a ride.

The move came right after Ofo in January this year pedaled its way to South Korea. Currently, Ofo operates more than 10 million bikes in over 250 cities across 21 countries such as Russia, India and Malaysia.

Zhang Xu, a Beijing-based mobility expert, said in an earlier interview with China Daily that bike-sharing firms' overseas expansion will help them to expand their influence in the overseas market, but it will also bring challenges and uncertainties related to local policies and local habits.

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