CARS, China's largest used car dealer by sales volume, said it has successfully raised another $162 million and seen its valuation jump to around $6.6 billion, as it looks to ramp up its New Retail business.
In just three years, CARS has raised $2.3 billion, the highest amount among Chinese car service platforms, including an $818 million round in March, and around $60 0 million in October last year. Its valuation has soared six fold, up from $1 billion dollars in September 2016.
The group now owns three brands: Guazi, the one-stop service platform for used cars; Maodou, the leasing and renting platform for new cars; and online auction platform Chesupai.
"In the past three years, CARS has completed construction of infrastructure to promote industry upgrades, building big data and artificial intelligence capabilities to drive industry efficiency and enhance user experience," said Yang Haoyong, CEO of CARS, on Tuesday.
According to the company, the new round of financing will mainly be used to develop its New Retail business, including its dealership network across the nation, plus investment into technologies such as big data, artificial intelligence and smart devices.
By the end of this year, Guazi will open 60 stores in 60 cities, covering over 1.3 million square meters, while Maodou will launch 60 stores in 60 cities nationwide, covering third-tier cities and below.
"The essence of New Retail is efficiency and user experience," said Yang. "However, those two factors had all been played to the extreme by online car dealers. The New Retail business model, driven by big data and artificial intelligence technology, and combining offline store services, is becoming the new mainstream for car consumption.
"China's automobile service sector is at an important turning point, and new consumer market opportunities and new consumer powers are taking shape. In the past three years, we have been striving to build the infrastructure to suit the new market, formulate new product and service standards, and realize industrial restructuring and upgrades in the form of New Retail."
The latest financing was led by DST Global, Novich Positioning Investment Fund and CKE. Newly added investors include Tiantu Capital.
"Car service consumption mainly happens offline. With the liberalization of policies and the maturity of technology, more and more internet companies are entering this field. However, as car service consumption is large-scale, combining online services with offline experiences is important," said an official from Tiantu Capital.
"CARS has formed strong online capability at the initial stage. Now, it is laying its emphasis offline. We expect its development in the New Retail area," he said.