While major agglomerations swell up and FM/LM (first mile/last mile) problem gets serious in China, Didi diversifies its urban service menu. Bike-sharing is next on the list. One year after starting an aggressive campaign by dragging ofo (小黄车) and bluegogo (小蓝车) bikes to its omnipresent platform, the firm shifted focus and now is developing its own brand.
36Kr reported on Wednesday that the company is about to bring 3000 brand new qingju bicycles (青桔单车) to Zhongguancun software park, Beijing in order to replace a batch of bluegogo bikes that was previously located there. According to reports, thousands of old bluegogo models in Beijing are hugely damaged, hence, renovation is quite natural in this case.
Worth mentioning that the new qingju model is close to bluegogo prototype in terms of net cost, according to an employee of Tianjin Fujida Bicycle Factory that is cooperating with Didi. So, the company won't take extra losses and will even benefit from this change due to economy of scale. The China Business Journal (中国经营报) previously reported that the factory and Didi concluded a contract on producing 150,000 qingju bicycles. By the beginning of August 2018, one third of this amount had been manufactured and eventually moved to warehouses in Beijing.
Later on Thursday, Municipal Commission of Transport (北京交通委员会) published an article on Weibo pointing out that Didi violated relevant provisions of Beijing municipal regulations on non-motorized vehicles and, by that, seriously disrupted the order of Internet bicycle rental operation in the city. In this regard, Didi promised to remove the new batch from Zhongguancun by 6:00 on May 16. However, according to the results of inspection conducted by Haidian traffic department, some of the qingju bikes still could be found within the nearby territory. As the company stated, it will continue negotiating with local authorities to get permission for replacing obsolete models.
Since the second half of 2017, local government has been tightening industry regulation, it set 1.91M as the maximum amount of bicycles filling Beijing streets. According to the latest data from the Beijing Transport Commission, there are nine registered Internet bicycle rental enterprises operating in the municipality. Average monthly sharing bicycle usage rate in April didn't reach 50%.
Didi's intervention to the bike-sharing segment was, in many respects, a response to acquisition of Mobike (摩拜单车) undertaken by Meituan-Dianping group (美团点评). Now, debuting in China's capital with its self-developed brand, Didi becomes the main pretender to the urban transportation throne in the country. Though, it is now exposed to various issues including regulatory restrictions.