General Motors aims to expand its car-sharing business through an affiliation with a Chinese technology company to explore new mobility in the world’s biggest car market.
GM’s investment in Yi Wei Xing Technology Co. builds upon its launch in January of Maven, its U.S. car-sharing brand, the Detroit automaker said Tuesday in a statement.
GM, in a statement, did not disclose how much it invested in the Chinese company.
Yi Wei Xing, founded in November 2014, has an r&d team of about 60 people, according to its website. GM called the low-profile startup a “leading car-sharing technology solution provider.”
Yi Wei Xing’s product, Feezu, is a cloud-based platform for car rental and car sharing.
GM said the investment will help the carmaker explore new car-sharing models while delivering insights into China’s rapidly evolving new mobility market.
“Every market has its unique requirements for car-sharing services,” said Julia Steyn, GM vice president of urban mobility programs. “Yi Wei Xing has solid technologies and innovations that will help us explore more efficient and personalized mobility solutions for consumers in China.”
New mobility businesses have big potential in China.
Many Chinese cities have banned car sharing and ride hailing for years to protect local taxi operators. But this year, Beijing opened the door by endorsing car sharing in guidelines for deregulating taxi services. It also released regulations to legalize and oversee ride hailing.
Proponents of car sharing in China say it eases traffic congestion and creates jobs.
It presents a big opportunity to carmakers too. Because China is a developing economy, many people can’t afford a car even though they may want one or even have a driver’s license.
Car sharing and ride hailing are two venues for them to get behind the wheel. Demand could further spur sales to fleet operators or even to traditional consumers who plan to offset the cost of the car by picking up rides. It may also spur demand for rental vehicles.
Yang Jian in Shanghai contributed to this report.