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Rental Bike Giant Obike Invades Germany 

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MUNICH, Germany – With DB Rent’s Call-a-Bike and Nextbike’s MVG-Rad (offered by Munich’s public transportation company MVG) there are already two bicycle rental systems operating in Munich. This April, Danish Donkey Bikes entered Munich followed by Singaporean Obike in August. Obike is flooding the streets of Munich with 7,000 grey-yellow rental bikes, leading to serious concerns and anger.

Rental Bike Giant Obike Invades Germany 
Munich has been invaded by 7,000 of these Obike rentals. – Photo Jo Beckendorff

The anger in Munich is growing about the 7,000 single speeders from this first Fareast rental bike provider which is trying to conquer Munich. They are not only occupying the last free spaces at bike parking and sidewalks in downtown Munich but also those in city suburbs. Obike isn’t operating with docking stations but strictly through an app based rental procedure without any direct address. There’s only an email address.

Collecting consumer data

Like in other European capitals and cities Munich citizens are questioning how Obike is making any money as there’s even no space on the bikes for advertising. It’s speculated that rental bike newcomers from the Fareast are only interested in collecting consumer data they can sell. This fear is rooted in the fact that IT giants are backing such rental bike operators.

After rising concerns and anger Obike reacted on the negative reporting in and around Munich. First of all they made clear that they won’t sell any customer data to third parties – “but we could offer our anonymous data cost-free to the cities so they can use them for updating their infrastructure.” Moreover they want to install a hotline.

Subsidiaries in each country for rental bike

According to latest news in the daily newspaper “Süddeutsche Zeitung” Obike is working with subsidiaries in each country. In Germany it’s Berlin-based OBG Germany GmbH. Country manager Germany Marco Piu is working right now 24 hours a day on image polishing. After a meeting with Munich city representatives he assured to work on a better service. As a further result there will be no more than ten Obikes parked at one and the same spot – and only there where they are not disturbing anyone. Nevertheless there is no information on who is collecting these bikes standing around in places they shouldn’t be parked – and where they will be parked after that.

Anti-dumping duties levied?

The only thing that is clear by now is that Obikes are produced in China and shipped by the British logistics company Unsworth Global Logistics to Germany. This leaves questions on whether anti-dumping duties are levied on the imported China made bicycles? Unsworth Global Logistics is also responsible for parking the bikes all over the Munich. The maintenance of Obikes is handled by a company named Live Cycle. According to Live Cycle the contract with Obike was signed only a week ago.

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