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While ofo leaves India, bike rental platform Mobike expands operations


With a departure of bicycle rental platform ofo from India, its biggest competitor Meituan-owned Mobike is aiming an expansion of the service in the country.

Mobike, which launched operations in Pune in May this year, is planning to begin the expansion plan with Pune, also called university town. Currently, it has over 3,000 bikes for hire in the city and is clocking up 4 to 4.5 rides per bike per day.

After completing the expansion process in the university town, it will focus on other 10 cities in the country in the next 18 months, according to Nikkei Asian Review. According to earlier reports, the company was in advanced discussions with authorities in various cities including Nagpur, Delhi, Bengaluru, and Ahmedabad, among others, to launch the service.

In all these cities, like in Pune, the company is linking with the local municipal authorities to spread awareness of the benefits of using shared bicycles.

Earlier, its rival ofo also explored similar partnership with Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) to support the Pune Cycle Plan.

The cycle plan was aimed to create the necessary infrastructure for proper cycle tracks, a city-wide cycle network, seamless public sharing bicycle schemes and development of cycle promotion activities.

How Mobike is faring in Pune

Mobike is mostly targeting short rides of around 2km to 3km for daily commutes, although it sees potential for longer leisure rides, especially in tourist towns and cities.

Users who download the Mobike app can locate a bicycle in their vicinity either offline or online and reserve it for a maximum of 15 minutes.

Mobike charges Rs 10 rupees for an hour’s ride and has introduced monthly plans from as little as Rs 99. Payments are completely cashless.

Roadblocks ahead

After seven months of operations in India, China’s biggest bicycle rental platform ofo decided to withdraw from the market, citing cash crunch.

Besides, the biggest threats for bike-sharing business in India is lack of infrastructure. There is no infrastructure in cities for such bike rental platforms except in central universities sprawled in 100s of acres.

Apart from infrastructure, there is competition from other players such as Ola Pedal, Zoomcar PEDL, Mobicy, and Yulu, which all are trying to capture some market for themselves in the limited demand.

The new move by Mobike may sound energetic initially, but it is difficult to say how far it will go. A few months ago, the industry saw similar energy and expansion plans from ofo as well, which has now shut operations in India.

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