Bike-rental startup Mobike and China’s largest thin-film solar cell manufacturer Hanergy Holding Group (汉能) announced yesterday a strategic partnership that will see the latter’s thin-film solar panels integrated into the body of a Mobike bicycle so as to meet the electricity demand of its smart locks.
The tie-up will give the bike-rental service a bigger edge against its rivals in terms of technology and cost-saving in the long-term.
Under the agreement, Mobike will set up a joint lab with Hanergy Holding’s unit Hanergy Mobile Energy for the research of mobile energy and internet of energy fields. And any product, technology, and solution co-developed by the parties should be used on a priority basis for the product and market that is independently operated by each party or jointly operated by the parties.
Thin-film solar panels developed by Hanergy, which are flexible, bendable, lighter than the crystalline silicon solar cells and can charge the rechargeable battery on a bike body using the sun, can help Mobike address its bike lock power demand, as the bike-rental service adopts smart locks with satellite positioning and mobile communication functions.
Higher costs have somehow restricted thin-film solar products from wide application, compared with crystalline silicon solar cells. The big-ticket collaboration is also a boon to Hanergy, helping boost the sales of thin-film solar cells.
Hanergy is China’s largest thin-film solar cell manufacturer. It has acquired foreign firms including Solibro, MiaSolé, GSE and Alta Devices to consolidate its R&D and production of thin-film solar products since it ventured into this sector in 2009.
“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,” said Hanergy chairman Li Hejun.
“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”, Li added.
Mobike has been moving down a path of technology since its establishment. It has launched its artificial intelligence data monitoring platform dubbed “Magic Cube“, in addition to the introduction of its IoT platform in collaboration with China Mobile and Ericsson.
In this chaotic bike-rental market with cutthroat competition, financial and tech strength will decide who will win out over the long haul.
Mobike’s arch rival ofo, which does not want to be left behind in technology, also announced an IoT partnership with China Telecom and Huawei in March, apart from a tie-up with China’s GPS BeiDou for smart locks last month.