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[原创]小黄车的英国之旅:从ofo到。f。 | 双语阅读

FT每日英语  · 公众号  · 2018-12-01 17:30


Screenshot: FTChinese



When dockless bike-sharing service Ofo first appeared in London last year, many people were bemused and irritated by its bright yellow bicycles parked or piled up outside tube stations and on street corners.


The number of Ofo bicycles in the capital quickly rose to almost 3,000 and spread to several cities around the UK. But just as quickly, the bicycles began to disappear after the company cut back its operations in the face of mounting losses.


① bemused [bɪ'mjuːzd] adj. 困惑的;发呆的

例句:He was rather bemused by children. 他被孩子们弄糊涂了。

As the craze for vehicle-hiring in the world’s biggest cities grows, the Chinese start-up highlights the risk of expanding too rapidly, particularly for companies such as electric scooter group Bird, which this month launched a trial in London.


Ofo is now trying to address its problems with a new strategy.


② start-up [stɑrtʌp] n. 启动;初创企业

例句:There's a lot of up-and-coming tech companies and start-ups. 这里有很多很有前途的科技公司和创业公司。

Photo credit: Getty Images

This summer the group, which had raised $2.2bn from companies including tech giant Alibaba since it was founded in 2014, withdrew from most locations in the UK, including Sheffield and Norwich, sacked most of its staff and largely abandoned its aim of making British cities healthier, cleaner and less congested.


Matt Thomas-Keeping, UK head of operations at Ofo, says the redundancies were part of a “global strategy . . . to focus only on the most mature cities, meaning London, Oxford and Cambridge in the UK”.

Ofo英国运营主管马特•托马斯-基平(Matt Thomas-Keeping)表示,裁员是“只专注于最成熟城市的全球战略”的一部分,这意味着在英国只专注于伦敦、牛津和剑桥这3个城市。

③ redundancy [rɪ'dʌnd(ə)nsɪ] n. 冗余(等于redundance);裁员;人浮于事

例句:Thousands of bank employees are facing redundancy as their employers cut costs.




Fellow Chinese start-up and rival Mobike has suffered a similar experience in Britain, retreating from Manchester — 10 per cent of its orange bikes there had been damaged or stolen in July alone — and scaling back in London.


London, in particular, has presented problems for Ofo, making it hard to repeat the success the company enjoyed in China, where it had 10m bikes on the streets last year.


④ retreat [rɪ'triːt] n. 撤退;休息寓所;撤退  v. 撤退;退避;向后倾

例句:"I've already got a job," I said quickly, and retreated from the room.


Photo credit: Getty Images

Bike-sharing services cannot obtain a licence to operate across the whole of London. Instead, they need to sign contracts with each of the 32 boroughs, which can be expensive and time-consuming, and led Ofo to a patchwork of coverage.


This made the service “less attractive”, says Nicole Badstuber, a doctoral researcher in urban transport policy at University College London.

伦敦大学学院(University College London)城市交通政策博士研究员妮科尔•巴德施图贝尔(Nicole Badstuber)说,这使得Ofo的“吸引力下降”。

⑤ patchwork ['pætʃwɜːk] n. 拼缝物,拼缀物;混杂物

例句:For centuries, quilting and patchwork have been popular needlecrafts. 几个世纪以来,被褥绗缝和拼缝一直是流行的针线活。

One former Ofo worker, who like other ex-employees was only prepared to speak on the condition of anonymity, says: “We had bikes turning up . . . as far as Reading [40 miles from central London] which people had taken on the train. Our operations team used to have to spend hours at a time going to find single bikes that had been taken away.”


⑥ anonymity [ænə'nɪmɪtɪ] n. 匿名;匿名者;无名之辈

例句:And yet another way of diminishing responsibility is anonymity. 再有一种减少责任的办法就是匿名。

Photo credit: Getty Images

The company has tried various measures to address this problem, including saying this month that it would fine users £15 if they parked their bikes outside permitted areas.




The lack of trackers on Ofo bikes, which meant the company could not find and collect them when they were left outside a permitted borough, created big problems in the early days, says another Ofo worker.


“You put them on a street and they essentially disappeared and there was no way for us to find where those bikes had gone. At the beginning . . . we were paying people to literally walk around the city looking for bikes,” the worker says.


⑦ literally ['lɪt(ə)rəlɪ] adv. 照字面地;逐字地;不夸张地;正确地;简直

例句:We've got to get the economy under control or it will literally eat us up. 我们必须控制住经济,否则它真的就会把我们困住。

A further issue was the size of the vehicles. “The first version of bikes that came into London were . . . absolutely tiny,” says a former employee. “Very quickly we realised we needed new bikes . . . They’re the things that start causing trouble.”


Photo credit: Getty Images

Beijing would also not let its UK arm sign long-term leases on warehouse space, says the former employee, “until we saw how the business developed”, which meant short-term fixes had to be found to store the vehicles.


Ofo shipped bikes to London as fast as it could, but it was not fast enough. The former employee adds that the breakage rate on bikes was “incredibly high”: 3,000 bikes would turn into 1,000 within six months because of wear and tear and vandalism.


⑧ vandalism ['vænd(ə)lɪz(ə)m] n. 故意毁坏文物的行为;破坏他人财产的行为

例句:It was boarded up in 1984 after years of urban decay and vandalism. 多年的城市衰落和损坏之后,它在1984年被关闭了。

Technological development was done in China, say other former workers, which showed a “lack of willingness to involve anyone outside of Beijing in the development process”.


Photo credit: Getty Images



Eventually Ofo’s rapid global expansion piled up unsustainable losses and led the company, according to one industry figure, to spend as much as $25m a month.


As one of the former Ofo workers put it: “Everyone thought Ofo had all the money — you see them winning $1bn in funding, and you think, money isn’t an issue. But that much money when you expand into several countries in a year doesn’t go far. I think by the time the financial brakes were slammed on by China it was too late.”


⑨ slam [slæm] v. 砰地关上;猛力抨击 n. 猛击;砰然声

例句:She slammed the door and locked it behind her. 她砰地关上门,身后的门锁上了。

Yet despite this, some former workers remain hopeful for the company: “We wanted people to be able to have cheap, easy, friendly transport. Five years down the line, hopefully it’s sustainable.”



scale back


例句:Despite current price advantage, UK manufacturers are still having to scale back production. 尽管目前在价格上占据优势,英国生产商还是不得不减少产量。

pile up


例句:Problems were piling up at work. 工作中的问题越积越多。

down the line


例句:Television was a good place to learn a lot of skills that helped me do other things on down the line. 我在电视上学到很多技能,这些技能对后来我所做的其他事情很有帮助。


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