China is one of the most technology progressing countries in the world and often, the rest of the world isn’t even aware of it. Think DJI. Yes, the drone you’re flying is not only made in China, but the company’s headquarter is in Shenzhen, bordering right with Hong Kong. Or the dockless Mobike you were driving around town today. Yes, also from China.
While China’s many startups and technology companies focus on their own markets, they continue to expand globally. Often, the first market right outside of China is Southeast Asia. SEA has some of the world’s most rapidly developing countries whereas transportation is among the main challenges for governments and city planners.
Let’s take a look at eight notable Chinese transportation startups that try to solve said transportation challenges through new innovations and technologies:
Huochebang is at the forefront of on-demand truck hiring in China, an industry worth 5 trillion yuan ($792 billion). The company is matching commercial truck drivers with users or, in other words, it functions pretty much as an Uber for trucks. Among its notable investors are Sequoia, Tencent and BaiduCapital.
Headquartered in Shanghai, NIO is among one of China’s fastest growing electric vehicle startups. Besides creating cars, NIO is also actively involved in the Formula E space with its own cars. Investors include Tencent, Sequoia and Hillhouse Capital.
Xpeng or Xiaopeng Motors is one of China’s fastest electric vehicle startups. Its designs are heavily inspired by Tesla’s cars and the company has been even accused of stealing the autopilot source code from Tesla. In 2018, Xpeng secured CN¥4 billion (US$585 million) in its Series B+ round, the largest funding total among Chinese electric vehicle startups.
For some China is considered the birthplace of the current bicycle sharing craze. The company is, by the number of bicycles, the largest global dockless and cash-less bike sharing platform. Mobike is currently withdrawing its operations from many places, including Southeast Asia, to focus on its home market in China.
5. JingChiJingChi is a Chinese startup that solely focuses on building autonomous vehicles with its necessary infrastructure behind. As of Q2 2018, it has raised US$52 million in funding. JingChi is as well part of Baidu’s autonomous driving platform Apollo, which has enlisted over 70 startups that are primarily focused on autonomous driving.
Ofo is currently Mobike’s biggest competitor. The company has bicycles in more than 250 cities across 20 countries and, like Mobike, uses a dockless system through a smartphone app that allows user to locate and unlock bicycles.
Ehang develops and builds autonomous passenger drones and is about to launch a flying-taxi service in Dubai. Its model Ehang 184 became the world’s first passenger drone on 2016 when it was unveiled at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show. In addition, Ehang also offers consumer-focused drones.
TuSimple is creating and building self-driving commercial trucks. Aiming to make commercial trucking safer and more efficient, the company is already testing its trucks in the U.S. and China. Based in Beijing, TuSimple has offices in China, the U.S. and Japan and has raised almost US$180 million to date with a post-money valuation of just over US$ 1 billion.