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Shared mobility and time share rental at a turning point

BEIJING – China’s shared mobility and time share rental market is at a key turning point as 2018 comes around and future competition will depend on who controls the landing resources rather than data flow, according to Yang Yang, CEO of Yiweixing (Beijing) Technology Co., Ltd., a leading car-sharing technology solution provider in China.

Yang made the comments at the car sharing breakout session at the 8th Global New Energy Vehicle Conference (GNEV8) organized by d1ev.com in Beijing on December 15.

“Mergers and acquisitions in the shared mobility and time share rental market are gaining speed and frequency,” said Yang. “I know personally several deals valued at more than ¥10 billion are in the works. We are now witnessing a major war in this space, like what happened with Didi and Kuaidi and what potentially could happen with Mobike and ofo in the bike sharing space.”

The future of time share rental, according to Yang, will be about who controls the resources. Whoever owns the core yet scarce landing resources locally will control the future market.

Yang said that the time share rental market is taking off because China has 360 million licensed drivers who may not all be able to own their own cars and there are also 770 million smart phone users who depend on mobile payment and accept new forms of transportation such as shared mobility.

Another factor driving the time share rental market is the rising volume of new energy vehicles lacking demand from private consumers, which means automakers will put many of those volume capacity into time share rental platforms.

There are more than 450 time share rental platforms in China running a total of just around 50,000 cars in the entire fleet, according to Yang, and most of the vehicles are running in second- and their-tier cities because there are fewer restrictions on operational resources such as license plates, parking spaces and traffic.

Yang believes that it is unlikely that a Didi or Mobike will appear in the time share rental market purely because unlike Didi and Mobike which is centered on their platforms, time share rental depends on landing resources. “The platform is only a tool to optimize operation and improve efficiency,” said Yang. “Only those with core resource and the right financial tools will come out winners at the end.”

Yang estimates that China has nearly 600,000 vehicles running on all vehicle rental fleets.

Zhou Chanjuan, vice president of Yidu Yongche, a Beijing-based time share rental platform running mostly EVs, predicts that a ¥100 billion market could be formed and she believes that the three keywords for success in this market are convenience, affordability and dependability.

She believes that the battery swapping model could help significantly in improving the operational efficiency of the fleet and also announced a vision that Yidu plans to become the best driverless fleet operator in the next decade.

Panda Auto, the car sharing platform under Lifan Automobile based in Chongqing, is a step ahead of Yidu after it announced China’s first driverless car sharing project together with Baidu in October, according to Co-Founder Yu Zhengdong. In fact it has already established a test base in Chongqing to pilot the project starting in 2018.  

Founded in 2015, Panda Auto now operates 15,000 EVs in six cities including Chongqing, Chengdu, Hangzhou, Zhengzhou and Jinan, with 2.1 million registered users. Vehicles operate via a manual battery swapping model that takes three minutes and average about 600 km in operational distance per day.

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