The streets of China are covered with gold…. gold bicycles that is. The new bikes are a product of cooperation of Beijing-based bike sharing company Coolqi (酷骑单车) and Haier, a well-known consumer electronics company from Qingdao.
Besides the golden paint accentuated with royal blue details, the biggest novelty offered by the bikes is the onboard phone charger. Unlike Coolqi’s regular lime green colored bikes, the deluxe golden edition is equipped with Haier’s phone holder and Micro-USB, USB Type-C, and Lightning charging cables.
Chinese media have already branded the new entrant to China’s bike-rental market as “tuhao” (土豪) bikes, a term denoting China’s nouveau riche with a taste for tacky, over-the-top accessories and vehicles. Chinese netizens have been equally cruel, calling the bikes ugly and expressing fears of going blind due to excessive bling. Some have even turned to Haier’s account on microblogging platform Weibo to ask whether the company was worried about affecting road traffic safety. Haier, in turn, stated that the color is “festive.”
According to media reports (in Chinese), founder and CEO of Coolqi Gao Weiwei said that installing charging equipment on shared bikes means taking a different approach.
“The Golden Edition shared bikes is a subversive move,” he said.
The shiny new approach to bike-rental reflects the aggressive competition in China’s market. After receiving hundreds of millions of dollars of funding, around 30 bike-rental startups have flooded China’s cities with hundreds of thousands bright-colored bikes. Bike-rental companies have been operating with extremely low or non-existent profit margins in order to keep prices down and beat the competition. The biggest players Mobike and ofo have even resorted to giving cash and free rides in hopes of winning riders.
The bicycles are currently available in five cities: Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Hangzhou, and Xi’an. The deposit will set you back RMB 298 while a half an hour ride costs RMB 1.5, slightly higher than other brands of shared bicycles on the market. Haier and Coolqi plan to install 10 million sets of charging equipment worth up to RMB 1 billion on their “24-carat” bikes (in Chinese). Perhaps this will become the new gold standard for bike-rental.