With this move, Baidu follows fellow Internet companies Alibaba and Tencent into the rental car business.
The new business car hire service app will be based on Baidu maps and an Android version will be released first. Yongche.com will be the car hire partner of this app. It is unclear if Yongche scored an exclusive relationship though.
Founded in 2010, Yongche.com is an Internet car hire service provider. It currently covers 74 cities in China and three cities in America, with about 50,000 available cars. Those cars are from offline car rental companies and Yongche.com has no self-owned vehicles.
Business car hires are now becoming a new competitive sector for Internet companies in China. Alibaba's taxi app announced at the beginning of July 2014 expanded the e-commerce behemoth into the business car rental market. At present, its business car rental service has been launched in major Chinese cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Hangzhou, and the company plans to reach nationwide operations in a short period of time. Meanwhile, Tencent is also building its business car rental team and is expected to launch related services at the end of August 2014.
Compared with Alibaba and Tencent, who already run taxi apps in China, Baidu does not have existing car network resources; instead, it chooses to rely on its map services. In China, mapping and online map services are a protective sector that only Chinese-owned licensed operators can provide.
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