Tucked away in the corner of a shopping mall in Beijing, different carsharing services entice passers-by with their bright posters ‘Only 1,80 yuan/km!’ ‘Lower price, better service!’ or ‘Be eco-friendly!’.
BEIJING. April 4, 2018 Following the rise in popularity of bicycle-sharing, carsharing services have now entered the daily lives of the Chinese people.
China’s sharing economy is nascent but already impressive in scope. From shared phone chargers to shared vehicles, China has witnessed explosive growth in its sharing economy, whose market trade volume topped $625 billion in 2017.
Being one of the most important markets of sharing economy, China’s carsharing market has experienced quick growth, both in terms of fleet size and subscribed users. There is strong consumer demand for carsharing, especially in low-density locations and in the downtown.
According to the Blue Book on Public Services released by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, more than a quarter of urban residents in China said that in certain areas, they would have to wait more than 20 minutes for a taxi on weekdays. With the development of urbanization and the regeneration of Chinese peoples’ consumption habits, the demand for automobile travel is becoming very strong. However, subject to the low speed of urban transportation development, increasing the number of vehicles cannot be the only solution. The development of carsharing in China is imminent.
The typical users share some key common features: they tend to be well-educated young adults living in urban areas, frequently connected to Internet. The service is often used for short trips and daily commuting. Flexibility and privacy are the main reasons most users choose carsharing. What’s more, hotels also have a strong willingness to adopt carsharing as a value-added service for their customers. For example, the Chinese operator Gofun has already started cooperation with Home Inn, one of China’s biggest hotel groups.
The Chinese government has also been favorable of carsharing development. For several years, severe air pollution has led many large Chinese cities to take action to stem the rising tide of private cars. This has boosted the opportunity for carsharing and shared mobility development.
Many carsharing operators in China have received major investments from OEMs and traditional car rental operators. For the moment, according to the “Status Quo and Trend of China’s Carsharing Mobility Market” report released by PWC, there are currently 30+ operators with fleets of more than 300 vehicles and 3+ operators with fleets consisting of more than 10,000 vehicles.
However, cultural preference towards car ownership may make it more difficult for Chinese consumers to accept a new alternative. Much like elsewhere on the planet, it takes time for municipalities to create supportive policies such as dedicated parking places for shared vehicles. Nevertheless, all signs seem to point to the fact that the new mobility train in China is going to be a tough one to stop.
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