A Chinese Bike-Sharing Giant Is Considering a Move into Car-Sharing

December 5, 2017, 9:45 AM UTC

One of China’s bike-sharing giants could be expanding from two wheels to four.

Mobike, known for its distinctive orange-rimmed rental bicycles, is considering a move into car-sharing.

“Yes, we’re thinking about that,” said Mobike co-founder and CEO Davis Wang, during a panel discussion at the Fortune Brainstorm Tech International conference in Guangzhou, China, on Tuesday.

Wang also said the company is “testing” how it might offer fintech services to its exploding user base.

Mobike has raised more than $1 billion dollars in venture capital from investors, led by Chinese online giant Tencent. The company has used the money to fund a rapid global expansion alongside bike-sharing rival Ofo, which has Chinese online retail powerhouse Alibaba as its marquee investor.

Mobikes With China-themed Slogans Make Debut In Shenzhen
Mobike’s trademark orange design is on display in the Futian District in Shenzhen, China, in August. VCG via Getty Images
VCG via Getty Images

According to Wang, Mobike now operates in some 200 cities in 12 countries around the world, including recently-added markets such as Rotterdam, Berlin, and Washington, D.C. Mobike riders take about 30 million rides per day and the company has 200 million total users.

Wang has no plans to slow down that growth. He said that he hopes to reach 500 million users in the next six or seven months.

To reap the advantages of its scale, Mobike uses the same model of bicycle in many markets around the world. But it does have to make some concessions. For instance, said Wang, after Mobike began operating in The Netherlands in recent months, the company got feedback that its bicycles weren’t tall enough for Dutch riders.

On stage with Wang was Sam Zaid, founder and CEO of San Francisco-based Getaround, a car-sharing startup that is now operating in 14 cities in the U.S. Zaid was noncommittal about expanding Getaround into China. “We see it as a very interesting and strategic market, and we’re taking a keen look at it,” he said.

Whereas renting bicycles from a company like Mobike is a fast-spreading idea, said Zaid, getting consumers used to the idea of renting out their own automobiles to strangers takes time.

But Wang, an executive at Uber China before launching Mobike, said he thought the idea of combining bike-sharing and car-sharing is a natural way to solve the “last-mile challenge” that exists around the world. “I think the two wheels plus the four wheels is going to be a perfect combination,” said Wang. The car can get you close, and the bike—presumably a Mobike—can take you “the rest of the way.”

How will Mobike launch its car-sharing effort? “Probably by working with Getaround,” joked Wang.

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