Bike hailing services got another round of funding this week in hundreds of million US dollars, but Beijing-based observers like Beida accounting professor Paul Gillis just do not see how those companies, involved in a giant competitive war, will ever pay back those loans, he tells QZ.
But widespread customer negligence and razor-thin margins could make it hard for these businesses to stay afloat. The very factors that make China’s bike-share services so convenient—low prices and ease-of-use, namely—are the same factors that could spell their death.
“What they’ve got is a very interesting technology, but a basic business model that makes no sense,” says Paul Gillis, who teaches accounting at Peking University in Beijing…
All of these factors merely compound the stress placed on an already shaky business model. Mobike and its rivals won’t reveal how much their bikes cost to produce, but an old estimate (which Mobike says has since decreased) places the cost of a standard Mobike at 3,000 yuan (about $437). Professor Gillis says that fares alone will hardly recoup these costs in a timely manner—let alone cover labor and R&D expenses.
“They rent for one yuan every half hour, and they expect that they might be rented four times a day for a half hour, which amounts to four yuan per day,” he tells Quartz. “If you take four yuan per day and you take that into the 3,000 yuan, you’ve got a long time before you’ve recovered the cost of a bike.”
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