Bike-rental firm Hello TransTech, along with mobile payment platform Alipay and battery manufacturer Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Limited (CATL), will invest RMB 1 billion (around $145 million) to form a joint venture (JV) focused on electric bicycle batteries.
Hello TransTech announced the new venture on Wednesday at an event in Shanghai. The new company will set up a battery exchange and charging network for electric bikes and scooters countrywide. Terms of the deal have not been made public.
The proceeds will primarily be used to build the company’s workforce, and construct charging and swapping infrastructure, Hello TransTech founder and CEO Yang Lei, said at the event. Yang will also lead the JV as the company’s CEO.
The service is expected to launch later this year. Yang said the company has not yet decided where its battery swapping and charging platform will first be rolled out. Users will be able to scan QR codes in order to open self-service cabinets, allowing them to replace their depleted batteries.
Hello TransTech, which already provides battery exchange services to 2 million e-bikes in its network, will be the main operator of the services. Meanwhile, Alipay will include the service in its app once it is launched. CATL is developing custom lithium-ion batteries as well as battery management systems for electric bikes.
Electric bikes and scooters are widely used in China. However, they have raised growing public concern over potential fire hazards of some rechargeable batteries. The country recently implemented national standards for electric bikes, which specifies stricter technical requirements for fireproofing, charger protection, and tamper proofing.
Battery exchange services could potentially address issues related to improper charging, such as using substandard adapters. Hello TransTech claims the service could also help the more than 500 million riders, as well as over 10 million food and parcel deliverymen. Hello TransTech is already discussing the service’s use by with food delivery platforms like Ele.me, Yang said.
Formerly known as Hellobike, Alibaba-backed Hello TransTech expanded its offering in October to include ride-hailing services. Yang stressed that two-wheel mobility is still the company’s core business, despite moves to diversify into ride hailing.