Indian companies entering the dockless bike-sharing battle!
22 December, 2017
The indian market is quite specific: anarchical trafic, no cycling infrastructures, crowded roads and streets, social inequality…. For all these reasons, less than 10 projects are in place so far (check the Bike-sharing World Map, and remember Bophal). And none of the big dockless bike-share companies dared to give it a try, even just to take the pulse of the local needs.
But India wants its piece of the dockless bike-sharing big cake! While its Asian concurrents are expanding endlessly in Europe and North America, plenty of companies are trying their chance and want to get on bikes the billion inhabitants. In this mass, some are emerging due to their financial power and have (or will) released their products in the sub-continent.
Yulu has been recently founded by Amit Gupta, who formerly co-founded profitable, billion-dollar startup InMobi. Nothing new on the technological side, with a common smart lock integrated on what seems to be a supermarket-quality bicycle, with V-Brake/disc brake (!!), a lot of plastic components and a fixed basket looking already bended. They already have agreements to launch a few hundred bicycles in Bangalore by the end of 2017.
— BloombergQuint (@BloombergQuint) 11 décembre 2017
Another Gupta (don’t know if he is related to Amit), Akash, is entering the game with Mobicy. The bikes are conventional copies of Mobike’s or Ofo’s. Nothing to say about that. Having raised 0.5M$ in november, they already have 5000 bikes in the streets of Delhi’s metropolis, where they launched beginning of december.
Local ride-hail company Ola (worthing 5B$), the indian Uber who is also offering an on-demand auto-rickshaw service, launched its own dockless bike-sharing system Ola Pedal. It uses basically the same bikes as Yulu’s. Even if the current 500 bikes pilot scheme in IIT Kanpur is equipped with cheap cable locks, it seems that they are going to fit a smart one (video at 0:47). Both cabs and bikes are available to book on the same app.
Introducing Ola Pedal – a quick, green, and smart way to cover short distances. Pedal is India’s first-of-its-kind bicycle sharing service, available on the Ola app that you love and use every day! Coming soon to your city. #StayTuned #PedalOn pic.twitter.com/voXJRVdJTN
— Ola (@Olacabs) 1 décembre 2017
Zoomcar, the self-drive car rental company, follow suite with its PEDL service. The bikes look a bit more like its chinese concurrents, and already have a smart-lock, while the app is using PayTM as a payment platform. PEDL already launched 3 pilot schemes of 500 bikes each in Bangalore, Kolkata and Chennai last november. According to its CEO Greg Moran, Zoomcar is willing to have more than 10 000 bikes in streets by year end.
The competition will be tough between all these actors (and others). The market is huge, with more than 1.3 billion inhabitants, but the public won’t be that large. Will the prices match with the means of the poorest? Will the image of commuting by bicycle be accepted by the “nouveaux riches”? As already said, India is very specific due to its culture, development and population, and requires a very good knowledge in order to address the transportation needs properly. These indian companies are therefore a step ahead of their Chinese counterparts, but they will have to fight to stay in first position!