GM invests in Chinese car sharing company "Yi Wei Xing"

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【Summary】General Motors announced recently that it has made strategic investment into the emerging Chinese car sharing venture “Yi Wei Xing”, which is the latest move that GM had on “exploring personal mobility in China”.

Original Claire    Oct 23, 2016 10:30 PM PT
GM invests in Chinese car sharing company
Claire Peng

By Claire Peng

General Motors announced on Oct 11, 2016 that it has made a strategic investment into the emerging Chinese car sharing venture "Yi Wei Xing." This is the latest move that GM has engaged in regarding "exploring personal mobility in China". 

Regarding the amount of the investment capital, both GM and Yi Wei Xing refused to release additional details.

"Every market has its unique requirements for car-sharing services," said Julia Steyn, GM vice president of Urban Mobility Programs in the statement. "Yi Wei Xing has solid technologies and innovations that will help us explore more efficient and personalized mobility solutions for consumers in China."

Yi Wei Xing, founded in November 2013, is a Beijing-based technology company focusing on car-sharing services. Its key product, Feezu, literally translated as "Micro car-rental" is a mobile app that cooperates with traditional car rental companies to rent cars to customers by days, hours or even smaller increments. It merges hardware and software to provide a car-rental and car-sharing experience, and also offers car-rental companies a customized cloud-based car-sharing platform. The company now provides services in 40 cities in China. 

Early in January, 2016, GM has launched its own car-sharing brand Maven, which includes three car services — a city-based service called "Maven City" that rents GM vehicles by the hour through an app, another for urban apartment dwellers, and a peer-to-peer rental service that started in Germany. The company put forward the service firstly in Ann Arbor, Michigan, by setting up 21 car rental centers and providing an hourly rate of $6 for renting compact cars and $12 for SUVs. Within just four months, Maven's services have been extended to 5 cities. 

According to TechCrunch, Maven COO Dan Grossman mentioned that GM was definitely looking at international markets for potential expansion targets. So investing in a Chinese car-sharing company is a decisive move toward Chinese market. 

It would appear that China displays huge potential in the car-sharing industry. According to statistics from ReportLinker, the ride-hailing orders made by Chinese customers in 2015 has reached the scale of 2 billion rmb (around $300 million) -- of which Didi Chuxing accounts for 3/4th of that amount. Many people now choose ride-hailing services instead of driving their own car for everyday needs. Besides, having a large population and growing demand for daily transportation, people stuck in traffic jams and suffering from air pollution might resort to a more convenient and greener way such as car-sharing to make the public roads less crowded. 

General Motors has kicked off several initiatives this year that focus its interest on unconventional transportation, including a partnership and $500 million investment in the ride-hailing startup Lyft. Eventually, GM wants to develop a network of self-driving cars for Lyft's service that can shuttle passengers around town without a driver.

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