Shared & electric

The biggest deal in cycling history happened when Mobike got bought this week for $2.7Bn by Meituan Dianping. Mobike was only founded in 2015.

Transportation is a major focus of Meituan Dianping which has a ride hailing businesses and uses Electric bikes for fast food distribution in China.

This is not the only mobility provider to invest in bike sharing with both Ford and Uber having invested in similar, if smaller ventures.

The car and bike industries do have some interesting parallels.

Total volume is about 80million cars and a 150 million bikes per year.

Sharing has been a big disruptor in bikes, and cars.  It is the reason for Mobikes success with an estimated 30 million daily customers.  The car world has been disrupted by Uber, and also with car clubs and other sharing schemes. BMW recently announced a joint venture with Mercedes Benz to develop a ride hailing company.

Electrification is also disrupting bikes and cars.  The zero emission cars are in demand especially in polluted cities. Europe is now supply limited with a backlog growing on all major models.

However, pollution is driving electric bike sales it is the other benefits which are influencing their demand: The increased average speed of the electric bikes makes them compete with the cars in urban environments. Additionally the ability to find parking is identified as an important benefit and the low running costs. Electric bikes are bought by 30% of people as a way of driving less. In china Electric bikes sales exceed car sales.

The next question is whether a shared and electric future exists though.  In a car the problems arise from charging, where infrastructure is expensive and difficult.  Car sharing has taken off when the cars can be distributed around a city, in a similar way to the undocked bikes.  But with higher usage, recharging often and quickly is required. Charging infrastructure is not cheap, and charging takes time.

Electric charging is also an issue for shared bike systems.  Again docking stations are required. The electric bikes are a much more expensive purchase than traditional shared bikes. Mnny cities are trialling shared electric bikes and scooters, but with less than a year in use the business model is not yet proven.

We watch this space with interest and await the next big injection of cash, or disruptive technology.

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