Beijing-based bicycle sharing startup, Ofo, has reportedly announced plans to enter the Indian market by the first half of 2018. Valued at $2 Bn, the unicorn recently launched operations in Adelaide.
The move is in line with the company’s aim to extend operations to a total of 200 cities in the coming months.
A source close to the development said, “Ofo is currently doing extensive ground research in India, examining government policies and the permissions required where foreign businesses in the transportation sector are concerned, as well as looking into the infrastructural limitations.”
Boasting a user base spread across 170 cities in China, Singapore, the US, Austria, Thailand, the UK, Russia, Italy, Australia and Kazakhstan, Ofo serves as a “non-docking” platform that allows users to track as well as lock and unlock their bicycles remotely.
The company currently charges $1 per hour for its services. The source added, “Ofo’s model would need to be tweaked and localised for the Indian market. Over here, civic behaviour is a concern. There is a chance of the bikes being sabotaged or stolen. So Ofo is presently looking at Indian metros and considering targeting young professionals or the middle or upper middle-class sections where literacy isn’t a concern and environmental sustainability is appreciated.”
Despite the challenges, a number of state governments have welcomed Ofo’s plans to commence operations in India, sources revealed. They stated, “The sharing economy already exists in India and select state government officials realise that through Ofo they can work on addressing congestion issues and act on building larger regional transit systems that are sustainable and are in line with their government’s smart cities plans.”