Ofo races into UK, US markets

By Ma Si | China Daily | Updated: 2017-07-11 07:31

Chinese bike-sharing startup ofo Inc will soon offer more bicycles in the United Kingdom and the United States after its trial operations in the two countries gained positive feedback from local consumers, co-founder Yu Xin said.

The move also came after the company gained more than 100,000 customers in Singapore within just 100 days, an experience which gives it confidence in accelerating overseas expansion, despite mounting competition from rival Mobike Technology Co Ltd.

"Ofo's trial operation in Cambridge in the UK has concluded and we are about to launch more bikes soon," Yu said. "The trial operation in the US is still ongoing, but we will also move into official operation soon in several local cities."

Yu did not offer details about how many bicycles it will add in the two countries. It started trial projects in California in March and Cambridge in April, where in both locations it has around 20 employees. As ofo steps up expansion, "the number will grow fast in future", Yu said.

The company announced last week that it had raised more than $700 million from investors including Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. The new cash will finance its plan to more than triple its yellow bikes to 20 million in 200 cities globally by the end of this year.

In Singapore, the first overseas destination it entered in February, ofo now processes more than 20,000 trips every day, with more than 10,000 bicycles. It also has a team of over 30 people to operate local services.

It is working with government bodies, town councils and other local players to establish more than 100 preferred parking zones in public housing estates.

"We aim to release over 1,000 bicycles across 28 different housing estates in Singapore by the end of the year," Yu said.

Wang Chenxi, an analyst at Beijing-based research company Analysys, said ofo is seeing explosive growth in the number of users, but how to maintain them will be a tougher question.

To cater to Singaporean consumers, ofo redesigned its bicycles, equipping them with a rear brake box that increases travel safety and stability, and a water bottle holder.

In the latest version of the ofo app, the company has connected with Google Maps services. Cyclists can also input their designed route directly into the app, and the map will highlight nearby parking zones and attractions. It is also partnering with AXA Insurance, to insure the trips users make on ofo bicycles.

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