Didi Chuxing has already established itself as the dominant force in the ridesharing market in China (as it officially takes over Uber China), but now, it’s looking at two-wheeled options, too. Never one to stay in the same place for too long, Didi is keeping us all on our toes by investing in a new startup called Ofo. And yes, it’s in the bike business.
For years, China has been a bike-forward nation, with nine million in Beijing alone. And while cars are certainly gaining in popularity, bikes certainly remain a primary method of transportation for China’s enormous population.
Allegedly an investment of “tens of millions,” very few details are currently available about the deal. It’s simply been called a “multi-layered partnership” between the two companies, and Didi has said nothing about what that actually entails or how it will partner with Ofo (if at all). Of course, it would make sense to assume that Didi may soon be offering bikesharing programs in addition to its ridesharing services. Or, as TechCrunch notes, Didi could use its new relationship with Ofo to deliver food, courier packages, and more, much as Uber has done.
Ofo currently boasts some 70,000 bikes and a presence in 20 cities across China, and has 1.5 million registered users embarking upon some 500,000 rides a day. Zhang Xu, a transport analyst with Beijing-based Analysys, told China Daily that Ofo’s fleet could serve as a welcome complement to Didi’s existing business model. “Especially in mega cities in China, there is strong demand to use bikes for short-distance commutes, which is more efficient and environmentally friendly,” he said.
And according to According to Li Zekun, marketing director at Ofo, Didi will allow the bike startup to grow beyond its current university-based program. “The two companies will share data, and eventually help ordinary consumers using Didi’s app to also ride Ofo bikes found in the city,” reported Quartz.