Caocao Zhuanche(曹操专车) an electric vehicle sharing company backed by Chinese automaker Geely, has completed a RMB 1 billion ($156 million) series A round from various investors, at a valuation of over RMB 10 billion ($1.6 billion), Sina Technology is reporting. Investors in the round were not disclosed. With the new funding, the company plans to expand in cities such as Shenzhen and Chongqing.
While Didi Chuxing still dominates China’s ride-sharing market after the acquisition of Uber’s China operations, there is still room for other players to grow. In last December, Didi Chuxing’s market penetration rate was 11.4%, followed by Yidao Yongche (0.9%) and Shenzhou Zhuanche (0.7%), according to Jiguang Data. Caocao Zhuanche, taking the 7th place in the list, showed an explosive growth rate 512.7% in December.
Three things seemed to have contributed to Caocao’s high valuation. Firstly, Caocao Zhuanche uses only electric vehicles from Chinese automotive manufacturing company Geely, who is also a strategic investor to the company. Unlike other ride-sharing companies, Caocao Zhuanche owns all the vehicles used in its service and trains their drivers and gives certificates to them. On top of taxi hailing services, the company also offers car rental services and private car hailing services which user can also have a tour guide option.
Launched in 2015, Hangzhou-based company claims that it now operates in 17 cities with over 12,000 drivers, and fills roughly 150,000 daily orders. It is named after Caocao(曹操), one of the central figures of the Three Kingdoms period.
Expanding to car-hailing business seems like a new movement for Chinese companies. Chinese O2O ecommerce company Meituan-Dianping set up its ride-sharing unit, and chauffeured car service provider Yidao Yongche also launched its taxi-hailing service. The two companies are currently having a subsidy war to attract more users to their services to win over Didi’s market dominance. Earlier this month, bike rental startup Mobike also expanded to car hailing service by partnering with Shouqi Limousine & Chauffer (首汽约车) to battle its arch rival having their bike rental service on Didi Chuxing.