SAIC Motor Corporation, China’s largest auto manufacturer, led a $70 million investment round in used car startup Beepi earlier this week.
Beepi visits a seller’s home to review the car and ensure it meets certain criteria, like having less than 60,000 miles on it and being under six years old, writes Fortune. Next, the startup’s team works with buyers to establish the best price, and then lists it on its Beepi’s own site.
SAIC’s senior investment director Anish Patel told Fortune his firm backed Beepi because they were looking for a U.S. company with a “fresh take on how to change the used car model.” Also, China’s used car market is booming: the country’s Automotive Dealers Association projected $11 billion in sales in 2015 since drivers are acknowledging they can get a better price for a secondhand car.
But SAIC’s financing exemplifies China’s blossoming interest in innovative transportation firms.
Ride-sharing enterprise Uber obtained a $1.2 billion investment from Baidu (China’s version of Google) in September 2015, reported TechCrunch. Baidu’s plan was to improve Uber’s integration with various programs like the country’s own mapping apps.
A few weeks later, Uber’s closest domestic rival Lyft struck a partnership with Didi-Kuadi, which is China’s “pre-eminent ride hailing company,” wrote The New York Times. Since Didi-Kuadi controls 80 percent of the ride-sharing market in China, this deal allowed Lyft to gain a foothold in China, and vice versa for Didi-Kuadi in the U.S.
Ride-sharing services are finding ample opportunity in the Chinese market since the nation has 800 million city dwellers, an overcrowded public transportation system, and a growing urban population, according to another Fortune report.
As China suffers through a bout of economic turmoil, investing in new transportation services could be a sign that the world’s second largest economy is may be moving into a new era.