Second bike-sharing firm shuts in China after losing bicycles

BEIJING • Beijing-based bike-sharing firm 3Vbike announced in Chinese media on Monday that it had ceased operations since June 21 after losing over 1,000 of its bikes in four months of operations.

The firm said most of the missing bikes had been stolen, reported the Global Times.

Its founder, Mr Wu Shenghua, told Chinese newspapers: "Without results in the first round of fund raising, I purchased 1,000 bikes on my own. Now there are only tens of bikes left. In some areas, we have none left. We can't survive like this."

According to the South China Morning Post, 3Vbike began operating in February, placing about 1,000 bicycles for hire in cities in Hebei and Fujian provinces.

However, as the company did not have its own mobile app to track the bikes, it had to depend on a cycle location tracking function on its WeChat page. As a result, many of the bikes disappeared quickly.

3Vbike publicly appealed for its bikes to be returned last month - however, it managed to recover only a few dozen.

The company is currently using its WeChat account to tell customers to claim their deposits as soon as possible.

Mr Wu said around 95 per cent of deposits were returned.

The Global Times' report cited "limited resources and the lack of support in some administrative departments" as some of the challenges 3Vbike faced.

There are currently many bike- sharing firms in China, leading to fierce competition.

Two of the biggest players are MoBike and ofo, which also operate in Singapore. They controlled 57 per cent and 30 per cent of the Chinese market respectively as of April 22.

3Vbike is the second bike-sharing company to fail after Wukong Bike, which collapsed last month after just five months of operations. Wukong Bike made the news last month as the first bicycle-sharing company to shut down in China after 90 per cent of its bicycles went missing.

Its founder, Mr Lei Houyi, told Chinese news channel NTDTV.com that his failure cost the company more than 1 million yuan (S$203,000).

According to Mr Lei, Wukong Bike had 1,200 bicycles in Chongqing. However, a large number of them went missing, and only about 10 per cent could be located.

He said his company was unable to engage a quality supplier like those of its competitors, such as ofo. Instead, Wukong Bike had worked with small suppliers and its bicycles were easily damaged.

Singapore has had its own share of bike-sharing woes - with users abusing the bicycles or leaving them in remote locations.

Last month, a 14-year-old boy was arrested for throwing an ofo bike from the 30th floor of a Housing Board block in Whampoa.

A few days later, four teenagers were arrested in relation to a case where a bicycle was thrown into a canal.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 06, 2017, with the headline 'Second bike-sharing firm shuts in China after losing bicycles'. Print Edition | Subscribe