MOBIKE bicycles will soon be integrated with thin-film solar panels following a strategic partnership between the bike renting startup and China’s largest solar cell manufacturer Hanergy Holding Group.
The agreement will see Mobike setting up a joint lab with Hanergy’s Mobile Energy unit, which undertakes research of mobile and Internet of energy fields. The use of thin-film solar panels is expected to give the bike startup a leg-up against its rivals, reports TechNode, as it will help them meet the electricity demand of the bikes’ smart locks.
Mobike bicycle locks charge themselves as the user pedals, but using solar panels can help cut costs in the long term as the company is adopting smart locks that require more power due to satellite positioning capabilities and mobile communication functions.
Hanergy chairman Li Hejun said: “Hanergy can utilize its global R&D resources to provide comprehensive technical support for Mobike, and discuss with Mobike on technical details later to make its bike more compliant with industry standards.
“In addition, Hanergy’s leading thin-film solar products, whose exports are exempt from anti-dumping duties, will help assist Mobike in exploring overseas markets,” he added.
The partnership with Mobike will also help Hanergy regain its composure after a fall from grace in 2015 when shares plunged almost 50 percent in under half an hour of trading, reported Financial Times. This slashed US$19 billion off Hanergy’s value at the time – a shock to the system as just earlier that year, the value of the company had made Li China’s richest man for a short time.
Hanergy, which is listed in the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (HKEx), owed its parent company Hanergy Holding HK$3.2 billion (US$466 million) as of March this year. Li promised to pay off the debt within two years.
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Mobike’s partnership with the thin-film solar panel manufacturer also highlights a more technology-oriented path for the startup. In April this year, Mobike announced the launch of its artificial intelligence data monitoring platform called “Magic Cube”.
“Magic Cube” is aimed at helping Mobike’s operations by forecasting supply and demand for its bike rentals, and giving guidance on bike dispatching and scheduling.