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BUSINESS & TECH

Car-Booking Firm Shouqi Nets Money, Technology From Baidu-Led Group

By Xiao Ying and Mo Yelin
Founded in 2015, Shouqi, which offers both ride-hailing and car-rental services, now operates in 53 cities in China and owns more than 60,000 cars throughout the country. Photo: Visual China
Founded in 2015, Shouqi, which offers both ride-hailing and car-rental services, now operates in 53 cities in China and owns more than 60,000 cars throughout the country. Photo: Visual China

Chinese car-booking service Shouqi has raised $105 million in new funds from a group led by Baidu Inc. and NIO Capital, which may also help the firm develop driverless-car technologies and deploy electric vehicles.

Combined with its two previous funding rounds, Shouqi Limousine & Chauffeur — a subsidiary of state-owned Shouqi Group — has raised at least 1.5 billion yuan ($230 million).

Founded in 2015, Shouqi offers both ride-hailing and car-rental services. It now operates in 53 Chinese cities and owns more than 60,000 cars throughout the country, the company said.

By partnering with Baidu, Shouqi hopes it can take advantage of the tech giant’s driverless technology. Baidu has previously agreed to provide Shouqi with its Baidu Map service, the official Xinhua News Service reported last month. The tie-up with electric vehicle-maker NIO Capital may help Shouqi eventually deploy new-energy fleets.

Unlike many ride-hailing services, such as Didi Chuxing — which recruit private car owners who often drive part-time and compete with ordinary taxis — Shouqi’s car-booking business focuses on higher-end, more expensive chauffeur services.

A national law that legalized the ride-hailing industry last year increased requirements for companies and private drivers. For instance, drivers must now be local residents with locally registered vehicles.

The regulations have had little effect on Shouqi, as most of its vehicles are registered and its drivers are local residents.

In February, the company became the second car-booking company to legally offer online car rental services throughout China, after securing a four-year operating license from Beijing traffic authorities.

Although Shouqi boasts more than 20 million users, including over 2.4 million active users, the company lags far behind rival Didi Chuxing, according to company CEO Wei Dong.

As a result, the company has adopted a “differentiation strategy,” Wei said, focusing on high-end costumers that are usually neglected by competitors.

Contact reporter Mo Yelin (yelinmo@caixin.com)

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