Kakao joins hands with GS Caltex to beef up urban electric bike rental service

21, Jul. 2020

Photo by Weston MacKinnon on Unsplash
Photo by Weston MacKinnon on Unsplash

SEOUL, AJU - To beef up its urban electric bike rental service and seek new business opportunities, the mobility service wing of South Korean web service giant Kakao has forged a partnership with GS Caltex, a major domestic refiner.

After the success of Kakao T Taxi, a smartphone app-based taxi-hailing service launched in 2015, Kakao focused on nurturing micro-mobility services. The test service of Kakao T Bike began in March last year in two satellite cities of Seoul targeting busy startup workers who need to travel short distances such as from a subway station to their workplaces using personal vehicles.

Kakao Mobility said in a statement on Tuesday that the company has signed a memorandum of understanding with GS Caltex and its car maintenance arm, GSMBiz, to set up maintenance and charging stations for electric bikes using idle spaces in five gas stations.

Currently, Kakao T Bike is serviced in selected districts in Seoul, the western port city of Incheon and the southern tourist city of Jeonju. Some 1,130 won ($0.94) is charged as the basic fare during the first 15 minutes of use and 500 won every five minutes. Kakao's electric bike rental service is very popular in business districts as users can just leave bikes after using without the need of returning them to charging stations.

Kakao and its partners will gradually increase the number of electric bike charging stations. Previously, Kakao's electric bikes were picked up late at night using trucks. The bicycles were charged and repaired before they were deployed at subway stations and areas with a lot of human traffic early in the morning.

GS Caltex will install more than 160 fast chargers at its gas stations by 2022 to create a nationwide network of eco-friendly fuel supply infrastructure. Its blueprint also includes a roadmap to utilize gas stations as the hub of a total logistics system including drone delivery, car-sharing and hydrogen fuel charging services.