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China’s burgeoning auto aftermarket industry sees flurry of tech investment

Casstime, which connects auto parts suppliers with auto repairing companies, is one of many startups transforming China’s aftermarket industry.

Photo: Tuchong

China’s burgeoning online auto parts industry saw a new fundraising deal recently as Casstime, a platform for buying and selling auto aftermarket products, closed a USD 50 million Series C2 round, according to a Monday post on the official WeChat account of Fosun RZ Capital, an early investor in Casstime.

Unlike most other sectors in the country, China’s auto aftermarket industry—estimated to be worth more than RMB 1.33 trillion (USD 188 billion)—is still dominated by brick-and-mortar businesses making offline transactions. But for a handful of startups, the 300 million cars on the road present an opportunity to inject modern technologies and business models such as AI and e-commerce to increase efficiency in auto repairing.

Casstime, which is based in Shenzhen, focuses on B2B auto parts e-commerce and runs a flagship app, Kaisi Qipei, that connects auto parts suppliers with auto repair and maintenance companies.

Jiang Yongxing, the firm’s founder and CEO, told 36Kr that with more than 100 million auto parts for all these cars, even repair workers can have trouble identifying them and their suppliers. To help solve such problems, Casstime’s app allows users to find and identify parts through pictures. A total of 1,600 suppliers and 86,000 auto repairing firms have joined this platform by the end of April, according to Casstime’s website. This Series C2 round comes only half a year after Casstime closed its Series C1 round in October last year, bagging USD 80 million from investors including Sequoia Capital China and Source Code Capital.

However, Casstime is one of a handful of startups pushing for the digitization of China’s huge automotive aftermarket industry, backed by venture capital funds that also see the potential.

Mancando, also set up in 2015, supplies auto parts via its app to over 2,200 franchisee car-repairing companies and other smaller repairing businesses across China. The firm also has a network of 61 brick-and-mortar stores across China. The Guangzhou-based firm closed its Series B round earlier this month, led by China Renaissance and joined by Xiang He Capital, as well as Oriza FOFs, collecting RMB 400 million (USD 57 million), KrASIA reported.

Jiang told 36Kr that it is more likely that Mancando and Casstime will cooperate than compete. With such an enormous market with relatively few players, they must team up to change the auto aftermarket.

In addition to Casstime and Mancando, KZmall, a Hangzhou-based B2B auto parts e-commerce platform, closed its Series B round in August 2019, collecting USD 60 million from sole investor Genesis Capital, according to Chinese online media outlet lieyunwang.com.

Think tank Forward·The Economist predicted earlier this year that the e-commerce penetration rate in China’s automotive aftermarket will reach 17% in China by 2025, up from 5% in 2018, adding that currently, 4S (sales, spare parts, service, and survey) stores take up about 85% percent of China’s auto repairing market, leaving only a small part to scattered small repairing firms. 4S stores normally source auto parts directly from automakers.

36Kr is KrASIA’s parent company