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China boosts e-bike battery infrastructure

With 500 million e-bike users in China, Hellobike is forming a joint venture to put in place a smarter and safer solution for changing batteries.

People reportedly take one billion two-wheel rides a day in China
People reportedly take one billion two-wheel rides a day in China

Chinese shared transportation platform, Hellobike, has embarked on a joint venture with Catl Battery and Ant Financial to build a greener e-bike battery infrastructure.


The $145m partnership aims to establish a battery-changing services network that will help meet the growing demand for “convenient commutes”.


Growing e-bike demands


According to Hellobike, the unregulated e-bike battery industry cannot, presently, meet the demands of commuters.


There are millions of delivery people who rely on e-bikes and 500 million e-bike users in China. In 2017, the total battery power needed for all the e-bikes sold was 122 gigawatts, about 3.5 times more than what was manufactured. Less than 10 per cent of all batteries meet the newly announced national requirements.


In general, users have limited access to safe batteries and reliable charging stations, the start-up notes. Batteries are often charged in unsafe environments, which has led to fires. It is also estimated that 90 per cent of the batteries in use are the lead-acid type that pose environmental hazards.


The new venture aims to offer users a greener, smarter, and safer solution. The batteries will be stored in theft-proof stations and charged safely at authorised locations.

"The new partnership seeks to build this network of service into a “long-term, basic energy source for society”

Riders will be able to use the new stations to swap dead batteries for fully charged ones. With the prompt of a new national standard, the transition to safer battery powered e-bikes is being accelerated.


Hellobike’s existing e-bike service already swaps out rechargeable batteries for part of its self-operated e-bikes. But the new partnership seeks to build this network of service into a “long-term, basic energy source for society”.


The company points out that it has already earned useful lessons from its bike/e-bike business and existing battery sharing programmes.


Lithium vehicle battery manufacturer, Contemporary Amperex Technology Co Ltd (Catl), will provide the batteries for the charging stations. The company claims its batteries are more durable, can be charged more times, and last longer than those sold by competitors.


Ant Financial’ task is to encourage its one billion members to use the new network and reduce their environmental impact. Riders will be able to use Alipay to unlock and pay for the e-bikes.


Hellobike is a provider of sustainable transport services in sectors like shared bicycles, shared e-bikes and car-pooling and operates out of 360 Chinese cities. It claims users have taken more than 12 billion trips on Hellobike vehicles over the past 2.5 years.


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