Commuters are increasingly opting for the convenience of car-sharing as an alternative to using private cars or public transport to get around China's cities, according to some analysts.
Car-sharing businesses have gained popularity in cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Chongqing and Chengdu, following the popularity of bike-sharing. After downloading a car-sharing app on a smartphone and registering their driver's license and ID card, a user can access information on nearby cars available for sharing.
The driver may be charged 1.5 yuan ($0.21) per kilometer, or 0.15 yuan per minute, depending on the car-sharing operator. Some companies also require a deposit of approximately 1,000 yuan.
Users then return a car to an assigned parking lot, which is free, or any regular parking area. The next user of the car is required to pay the parking fee.
The expense of driving a shared car is cheaper than taking a taxi or using a special car service, said Fu Cong, the head of car-sharing platform yiduyongche.com.
A user in Chongqing said it is cheaper and more convenient. However, some users said they had struggled to find a car when they needed one.
The industry is still in its infancy, and the costs of operation and service are high. The number of cars, including some new-energy cars, in service is also not enough.
Yet analysts still believe car-sharing businesses will flourish in the near future, and that such growth will not create more traffic pressure on city streets.