(ECNS) -- As shared car rental and bikes flourish in China, parking may become the next sharable target for investors, as the country faces a shortage of over 50 million parking spaces, Workers' Daily reports.
Data from National Development and Reform Commission, China's top economic planner, showed the car to parking space ratio is about 1:0.8 in big cities and 1:0.5 in medium and small ones, compared to 1:1.3 for developed countries.
In Beijing, car ownership hit 5.48 million in 2016 but the number of parking spaces was only 1.93 million, or one parking space for every 2.84 vehicles, indicating a shortage of 3.55 million in parking spaces, said a white paper jointly issued by Thupdi and China Urban Public Transportation Association in June.
To address the shortage, some cities including Beijing and central Wuhan City introduced car parking lift systems, many of which have been abandoned due to high costs, inconvenience and costly maintenance and repairs.
Recently, Beijing also asked institutions and enterprises to open their parking lots to outsiders during non-peak hours, and encouraged individuals to share idle parking spaces with others.
According to the white paper, parking consumption reached 400 billion yuan (.8 billion) in 2016, while investment in the sector neared 17 trillion yuan. In particular, Shanghai's shared parking platform AAP covered more than 2,100 public parking lots and garages at the end of 2016.
An industry insider said the utilization rate of parking lots in cities didn't even reach 50 percent, indicating a great potential for the shared parking industry to tap. Many companies now have set their sights on investment opportunities in the sector.
He Yuefeng, general manager of a Shanghai-based smart parking company, said shared parking systems are able to accurately match supply and demand. "Shared parking solutions put an end to information asymmetry and allow users to find idled parking spaces nearby."
He said his company's cutting-edge technology supports parking space booking, accurate navigation, reverse parking and self-check-out services.
Li Junhui, a professor of the China University of Political Science and Law, said shared parking may partially help ease shortages. It is imperative to upgrade infrastructure and increase the number of sharable parking spaces though, he said.