China’s sharing economy has been drawing attention with the latest bike-sharing revolution, but it looks like there will be more changes. After a period of lagging behind the Western urban centers, China’s car-sharing companies have begun their march to the market, expanding services and waging price wars.
Traditionally, Chinese consumers prefer to own their cars, as it is considered a symbol of higher social status. However, there are a number of reasons that have increased the appeal of car sharing. Those reasons include the restrictive car plate allocation system, congestion, and the air pollution among others. Authorities have also started supporting this mode of transportation, seeing it as a way to boost China’s electric car industry and reduce traffic. Here are the top car sharing companies in China.
1. ATzuche (Auto)
Founder: Chen Weiyu
Financing: RMB 400 million (USD 58 million) in Series C, February 2017; RMB 95.5 million (USD 14.7 million) in a crowdfunding campaign, October 2016; undisclosed amount in series B+, June 2015; RMB 300 million (USD 46.3 million USD) in Series B, November 2015; RMB 69 million (USD 10 million) in Series A, October 2014.
ATzuche is a P2P car rental startup that broke the crowdfunding record in China in May last year by acquiring over RMB 95.5 million (USD 14.7 million) through JD Dongjia, JD’s private equity crowdfunding platform. The platform allows users to rent out their idle car and provides several services such as 24/7 customer support, roadside assistance, and car delivery. It also specializes in providing luxury cars. ATzuche claims it has 3 million users, and 100,000 registered cars in 14 Chinese cities.
Founders: Li Rubin, Yinming Ren
Financing: RMB 207 million (USD 30 million) in Series A financing, December 2014; RMB 34.5 million (USD 5 million) angel financing, May 2014
Baojia is another P2P car rental service that has a variety of services, such as test driving, long term leases, and products and technology connected to driving. In 2016, Baojia announced the development of a carsharing cloud platform to connect car rental companies, third-party travel platforms, automotive technology researchers, big data and cloud computing service providers that will build the country’s largest car sharing network. According to a report from 2015, the platform had 30,000 registered vehicles.
Founder: Eric Liu
Financing: RMB 60 million (USD 8.6 million) in A Series, May 2015 P2P car sharing platform
Kuaikuai was founded by Eric Liu, one of the early employees at Vipshop which used to be the leading online discount retailer for brands in China. It also has a car rental service and is the largest online car rental brand in South China. The company also offers leasing services, with at least 20,000 cars in their fleet currently.
4. Yi Wei Xing (Feezu)
CEO: Yang Yang
Financing: Undisclosed amount, October 2016, RMB 60 million (USD 8.6 million) in a pre-A round of financing in April 2015
In October 2016, General Motors shared the news that it will invest in the car sharing tech platform provider Yi Wei Xing and its app Feezu, a timeshare rental car service similar to Zipcar. By taking a stake in the company, GM plans to expand its own car-sharing service Maven. The company has recently announced a strategic cooperation with Yi Du, a Beijing-based timeshare rental service, with a focus on electric vehicles.
CEO: Chen Bing
Mercedes has recently decided to merge two of its car sharing services, Car2Go and Car2Share that together have over 250,000 users in China. The company has both free-floating and station-based car sharing services that offer SMART cars. Mercedes is also hoping to bring self-driving cars to China in partnership with Uber. The company might soon face competition from BAIC Motors that has recently launched its own car-sharing service.
EVCARD is the first electric car sharing service in Shanghai. The project was launched by Shanghai International Automobile City, a demonstration zone, with SAIC Motor Corp. The cars can be rented at 50 designated stations by swiping a card. As General Manager of Shanghai International Automobile City Rong Wenwei explained, the project is not meant to bring much profit but fill some of the gaps in the city transportation system and to promote the use of green vehicles.
GoFun Chuxing is another timeshare platform that aims to promote car sharing services set up by state-owned Beijing Shouqi Group, a leading auto leasing company. GoFun plans to spread to 20 cities and provide more than 15,000 cars around China by the end of this year and it is making deals with city authorities to secure parking and charging stations. GoFun’s chief operating officer Tan Yi recently said that the company hopes to start turning profit in two to three years.
LeShare, founded by LeEco Holdings, is another new addition to China’s sharing economy. LeShare has ambitious plans to expand its fleet of electric vehicles to 200,000 vehicles across 100 Chinese cities by 2019. The car sharing branch was set up under the Internet Ecosystem Institute led by Yidao Yongche.
Yidao Yongche, which came under LeEco in 2015, provides ride-sharing and car-hailing services. Aside from China, it is also present in 20 cities in the U.S. where it caters mostly to Chinese tourists.
(Top photo from Baidu Images.)