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Three men, two meals and a smart rental car

A concept “Yiqi Car by iVokaOS” was introduced at a press conference on February 3 in Beijing.

The concept car, a smart electric rental car, was presented by Yiqi Taihang, a joint venture between three partners, Yidao Yongche (Easy Car Rental, or Yi), Chery (Qirui in Chinese or Qi) and Pateo (Bo Tai in Chinese or Tai). Hang in Chinese means company.

Present at the press conference were the three CEOs: Zhou Hang of Yidao Yongche (yongche.com), Yin Tongyue of Chery and Ken (Yilun) Ying of Pateo Internet Technology Service Co., Ltd.

According to cheyun.com, the new company was the outcome of discussions over two meals. Ying initiated the conversation with Yin and attracted Yin’s attention to the idea of a smart car. Ying and Yin shared the same concept with Zhou at the second meal. Strong common business interest led to the founding of Yiqi Taihang in less than four months, without a third meal.

Yidao Yongche will offer its mobile internet based car sharing platform in the new company. Chery will provide a pure electric car and Pateo will develop vehicle connectedness and an intelligent human-vehicle interface. The total investment of ¥170-¥180 million ($27.4-$29 million) will be contributed in descending order by Yidao Yongche, Chery and Pateo in terms of equity shares.

As the world’s first smart electric car for rent only, the “Yiqi Car by iVokaOS” will be a new vehicle based on Chery’s current subcompact QQ model. By utilizing user database, the car will be capable of automatically adjusting seat and steering wheel positions. The navigation system will be able to intelligently determine the destination and the route to avoid traffic jam. It will even identify the cheapest parking lot. On top of these, the rental car will incorporate social media apps such as WeChat into its system.

The first batch of 5,000 vehicles will be available for rent nationwide after the production starts in 2016. The daily rental price will be ¥99. Annual market demand may reach 150,000 units by 2018, making it the most popular e-car by volume in the world.

Yiqi Taihang will benefit all three partners. For Yidao Yongche, the JV will inject vehicles to its rental fleet. For Chery, the smart e-car will help uplift the QQ brand. For Pateo, the tie-up will expand its connected vehicle business with existing customers such as Peugeot, Volvo, DS, GM and Ford, further enriching its ivokaL, ivokaOS, standard vehicle terminals, flexible vehicle systems and other high-level B2B and B2C offerings including the IncaNet and smart vehicles.

Pateo reportedly plans to invest ¥1.5 billion on smart vehicles in the next five years.

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