In late 2012, Giant partnered with the Taipei Dept of Transportation to officially launch YouBike, Taipei's bike share program. There are now over 130 locations throughout the city to pick-up or drop-off one of the 5,000 bikes available (all manufactured by Giant of course). And the best part is, it's free to use for the first thirty minutes, with nominal fees for subsequent thirty-minute intervals. Over 10 million bikes were rented in 2013 using YouBike and the numbers keep growing!
According to an Opinion in the Vancouver Sun last week, Giant's Taipei bike sales rose 20% after launching YouBike. Though the bike share service operates at minimal profitability, Giant plans on doubling the number of YouBike bicycles and rental stations by the end of this year. Apparently the investment in the bike share program is worthwhile despite any losses the business itself generates.
If this is working so well for Giant in Taiwan, why aren't they and other bicycle manufacturers investing similarly in bike share program partnerships here in the US? Citi Bike carries the Citibank brand to help subsidize the bike share program in New York City, though few other programs in the US have brand sponsorships or partnerships in place to help subsidize the programs. It seems like a great chance to help boost local bicycle sales, and an opportunity ripe for the picking for bicycle manufacturers that are large enough to be able to afford it.
If nothing else, bike share programs here in the US should consider implementing similar "free for the first thirty minutes" pricing models, as it has shown to be incredibly effective at growing usage and popularity in Taipei.
If only Companion Bike Seat was a larger organization ... we would definitely partner with a bike share program or two, and of course outfit every rental bike with a Companion Bike Seat!