Bullish Shanghai-based bike-sharing start-up Mobike is planning to launch in Manchester and Salford in the UK, its first markets outside Asia (the company is already up and running in Singapore). The new Mobike services will initially form part of a six-month trial, with a view to building out the offering if it proves successful.
Unlike other cycle services, Mobike does not use dedicated docking stations with users able to leave bikes at numerous designated sites. Sharers locate their nearest Mobike via mobile devices and unlock them via a dedicated app. The lightweight aluminium bikes are pretty low maintenance and are chainless and sport puncture-proof airless tyres.
Mobike says it is currently in talks with a number of other European cities for its service.
However, the company was beaten to the UK market by Chinese rival Ofo which rolled out a pilot in Cambridge two months ago. Ofo is looking to looking to operate in three UK cities by year-end.
Mobike says it sees Manchester becoming ‘like a Shanghai for Europe’, doing for bike-sharing what Shanghai began in Asia, where there are nearly 5 million bikes, and 100 million users in China and Singapore.
UPDATE: Mobike has just raised $600 million, taking its haul to more than $900 million since October. "We will accelerate the pace of global expansion, and our new target is to be in 200 cities by the end of this year," says CEO Davis Wang.