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Phoenix hopes for ofo tie-up boost

By HE WEI in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2017-05-09 07:04

Dai Wei (left), CEO of ofo Inc, Ma Zhongchao, head of the China Bicycle Association, and Wang Zhaoyang, president of Shanghai Phoenix Bicycle Co Ltd, try new shared bikes in Shanghai on Saturday. PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY

China's leading bike manufacturer Shanghai Phoenix Bicycle Co Ltd on Monday unveiled new bike models, backed by smart hardware, to tap into the burgeoning bike-sharing wave.

The rollouts-the U1 and Mintbike-feature lithium batteries, smart locks, sensors and LED lights, marking a fresh attempt by the 120-year-old bicycle maker to adopt the nation's Internet Plus strategy and embrace the sharing economy, said Wang Zhaoyang, president of Phoenix.

To optimize the riding experience, key metrics such as riding distance, riders' posture and environmental conditions are recorded and simultaneously transferred to a cloud-backed transportation platform, using internet of things technologies and leading algorithms such as deep learning, said Phoenix Vice-President Liu Bing.

The unveiling ceremony in Shanghai followed a partnership with bike-sharing startup ofo Inc, under which Phoenix agreed to produce 5 million bikes for the bike-rental business. Twenty percent of them are dedicated to international market offerings.

The tie-up will help ofo with its overseas expansion. With registered trademarks in 80 countries and regions, Phoenix said it will leverage its vast distribution and logistics network to bolster the international presence of ofo, which has already entered the United States, the United Kingdom and Singapore.

The duo will cooperate in the manufacturing, branding and development of new models to meet quality standards on shared bikes in different countries. Compared with its conventional fleet, every Phoenix-produced ofo bike will bear a golden Phoenix plate.

According to ofo Chief Executive Officer Dai Wei, the first batch of the jointly branded bikes will be put into use in Beijing, Shanghai and their surrounding areas.

Ofo said it has operations in 100 cities globally with nearly 5 million bikes and 100 million users. Its latest domestic entry is in Lhasa, capital of the Tibet autonomous region, marking the highest altitude its iconic yellow bikes have reached so far.

"The strategic partnership between Phoenix and ofo will be a prototype for bike manufacturers and operators to cooperate and move toward innovation and sharing," said Ma Zhongchao, head of the China Bicycle Association.

The association also founded a sub-committee on shared bicycles on Sunday, which is tasked with drafting an industry standard and assisting government authorities to properly manage the booming sector.

Unlike other sharing projects around the world, China's on-demand bicycles can be picked up and left anywhere, making them convenient for users but frustrating for city authorities as brightly colored bikes clutter up streets.

In March, Shanghai was reported to have ordered six bike-sharing companies to stop adding new bicycles in the city, though ofo and rival Mobike Technology Co Ltd denied that these talks had occurred.

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