Chinese bike sharing company Hellobike has joined forces with Ant Financial and CATL to invest 1 billion yuan ($144.5 million) to establish an e-bike battery joint venture, media reports cited a joint announcement.
The holding percentage of each party in the joint venture was not disclosed.
Hellobike’s existing platform already exchanges 500,000 rechargeable batteries for more than 2 million users a day, with China currently having over 250 million e-bikes, the JV partners reportedly said.
The new entity will install a network of storage units allowing users to swap for charged batteries as they ride. The service is expected to be available this year in first-tier cities across China. Users can access the service via QR codes.
“We have defined the battery-swapping service as a long-term, basic energy source for society, just like gas stations,” Reuters cited Hellobike’s CEO Yang Lei. Lei will lead the JV as CEO.
Hellobike was merged with Youon Bike in 2017 and funded by Alibaba Group. Its most recent Series G funding, worth billions of yuan, was led by Ant Financial and Primavera Capital. A Bloomberg report said in April that the bike sharing unicorn was seeking a new round of funding at least at $500 million to as much as $1 billion.
As China’s third largest bike sharing company, Hellobike is moving upwind in the local ruthless segment. While Ofo is on the verge of bankruptcy, MoBike records constant losses that sees Meituan Dianping restructure the business to last through 2019.
Domestic production of e-bikes last year reached 30 million, according to data from the China Bicycle Association. Meanwhile, the country has issued new standards for electric bikes that include pedaling functions, total weight and motor power, as well as technical requirements for tamper-proofing, fireproofing and charger protection.