Chinese company’s raw numbers are impressive but theft, vandalism and wary city chiefs could stand in its way
For investors backing the march of Mobike in cities across the world, the numbers look very appealing. The orange-wheeled cycles can be rented out for £1 for every 20 minutes, after being churned out by the company’s own Chinese factories at a cost of between £40 and £200 a bike – a small fraction of its rivals’ manufacturing costs, according to Mobike’s former UK general manager Steve Pyer.
Theoretically, this means a bike could pay for itself in 13 hours. In practice there are other substantial costs, such as relocation, servicing and replacing vandalised cycles. But those initial “unit economics” have made Mobike such an attractive business prospect that it has raised close to $1bn (£780m) in venture capital.