Statistics show that the total value of the short-commute market in China stands at 840.9 billion yuan. From 2015 to 2016, the transportation sector witnessed 286 investment and financing cases, with 243 projects having received funding, marking a 150% y-o-y increase. In addition, other practices of smart transportation, such as new-energy vehicle timeshare rental and autonomous driving, are in their nascent phase.
Hosted by China Jianyin Investment and FT China and organized by JIC Technology Investment, the JIC Investment Forum opened in Beijing on April 15, 2016. Themed “Internet+ Transport Reshapes Future”, the forum aimed to explore the investment opportunities and development trends of smart transportation through analyzing the policy benefits and technological changes under the background of the "Internet Plus" national strategy. Nearly 200 participants and media members were present to share their ideas about investment opportunities in smart transportation.
2015 was considered China's “first year of the start-ups”, and it was also an unusually active year in China's primary market. Just as enthusiasm for mass entrepreneurship and innovation was reaching fever pitch, many internet businesses collapsed and fell by the wayside. These projects shared some commonalities: using money to entice users, with the modus operandi being burning through cash to subsidize users so as to win them over; O2O businesses focusing exclusively on online operations with a lack of control over offline resources.
When speaking of the impact of internet technologies, many would resort to using the term "disruptive". However, as entrepreneurs and investors become increasingly rational, they find that the impact internet technologies have brought to traditional industries is less of a disruptive nature, but more an integration of the online and offline world and that of traditional industries and emerging technologies.
The main driving force behind the rapid growth of the intelligent transportation market emerged out of the urgency to tackle urban congestion, the increasing maturity of emerging technologies and the national policy support. From an investment point of view, the industry is filled with opportunities. Within its subdivisions, such innovative business models as car rental, online ride-booking and timeshare car rentals will undoubtedly become magnets for capital. There is then the question of how to secure the best investment targets in an overall upwardly-trending market.
We came up with the following four investment formulas: first, some people are willing to pay for efficiency improvement, if start-ups want to achieve profitability, then they must locate target groups both willing and able to pay for efficiency improvement; second, linking with supply chain financing - supply chain financing utilizes big data to establish a risk control system, thereby greatly reducing investment risks; third, increase in new-energy vehicle penetration levels - only business models that are truly accepted by consumers will enjoy greater development potential, such as new-energy vehicle timeshare rentals and charging facility operators; fourth, consumption upgrading in the area of transportation - there exists still many investment opportunities in addition to the existing online ride-booking platforms.
General trends in the future development of intelligent transportation:
First, accurate traffic data capturing and intelligent direction of traffic;
Second, intelligent vehicles and the coordinated command of people, vehicles and roads;
Third, mobile internet-based integrated and intelligent transportation services;
Fourth, global optimization of transportation control systems;
Fifth, efficient operation of intelligent logistics networks and systems;
Sixth, proactive synchronization of transportation safety administration and emergency response.
The rapid evolution of technology has led to increasingly diversified and personalized ways of travel. As managers of an enterprise, we have always retained respect for technology and the market and we offer our appreciation to the existing key players in the mobile ride-hailing market for their hard work. At the same time, we believe that the innovations of the internet are still related to the operation of traditional industries and enterprises, as online ride-hailing is inseparable from the physical presence of the vehicle. Through the internet, we are able to monitor drivers' service quality, manage fuel use and improve routes - these are all industry upgrades brought about by the internet but remain as pertinent as ever to the physical operation of the industry entities.
In addition, the usage of all vehicles is subject to the boundaries set by public administrators for the industries. Most of China's first-tier and second-tier cities suffer perpetually from rush hour traffic impasse and a mismatch in public transport supply and demand, which cannot be solved by endlessly increasing vehicle supplies and can only be addressed through the efficient coordination and control of existing stock.
As for leveraging the "sharing economy" as a solution, true sharing of the traffic comes not from unlimited supply which will sink a city's traffic further into paralysis, but from the orderly and efficient coordination of the existing stock of vehicles. The sharing economy has its own boundaries and function definitions. Another issue at hand is the criticism of the taxi industry and the emergence of talk of "eliminating taxis". However, if people still need this type of public transport function, it means that it will require a function definition different from non-public transportation. As internet technologies advance, the boundaries will continue to adjust, optimize and achieve maximal efficiency for the existing stock of vehicles. Therefore, the so-called internet disruption is really about taking a leap forward in imagination, but not eliminating boundaries.
Therefore, I would like to emphasize that all cities have their own reasonable rules of competition with regards to transportation. We hope that under the set rules, different players will be able to engage in healthy competition through their professional services, rather than relying on price competition and subsidies for survival and expansion like the current situation.
(VP & Executive Director of JIC Technology Investment)
(Deputy Chief Engineer at the Research Institute of Highway of the Ministry of Transportation)
(CEO of Shouqi Limousine & Chauffeur)