OSAKA, Japan – To gain traction for its e-bike business, Panasonic partnered with Chinese Mobike to explore the possibilities of an electric-bike-sharing service in Japan. Panasonic’s focus on its local market is not a surprise as the company seems to realize that they somehow missed the early stages of the European e-bike hype.
Panasonic generated 31.7 billion yen (246 million euro) in sales from its bicycle business in fiscal year 2017 reported the Nikkei Asian Review earlier this week. The company introduced their first Japan-Made sportive e-bikes early 2018. A novelty as Panasonic only sold e-bike kits so far. Perhaps they were forced to change their strategy thanks to last year’s market entry of Bosch eBike Systems’ in Japan.
Japanese electronic equipment manufacturer will employ a system built on Mobike’s expertise which can lock and unlock bicycles electronically and collect payment via a mobile application. Panasonic will initially run the service on its own, starting with sports bikes that can be rented at tourist attractions.
Chinese Mobike operates a fleet of around 7 million bicycles worldwide, while Panasonic claims to be the Japanese leader in electric bicycles, controlling more than 40% of the local market. The partners may set up a joint venture to operate an urban e-bike sharing service in Japan’s cities.
Nikkei Asian Review also reported “In sharing systems Panasonic expects sizable demand for electric bicycles while the regular bike-sharing is unlikely to take root in Japan. Because of the fact that bike-sharing is not popular in Japan Chinese Ofo had to pull out of the Japanese market forced by declining earnings at home. Mobike recently discarded a similar service in Sapporo, on the northern island of Hokkaido, but maintains its presence in some cities only.”
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