The Chinese will buy 16.7 million passenger cars and light commercial vehicles this year, about five million more than consumers in the U.S., according to the most recent research by J.D. Power and Associates. Driven by China’s rising middle class, breakneck development of suburbs and roads, and drastically reduced tariffs on automobile imports since 2001, a torrent of cars is choking Chinese cities in traffic and pollution. Convinced that a market existed for car rentals, Shanghai-born Ray Zhang, the founder and former chief executive officer of logistics software maker Aleph in Emeryville, Calif., returned to China in 2005 and launched eHi Car Rental a year later with $5 million in venture capital, promoting renting as a greener alternative to owning.
Eurazeo SA, a French investment firm, hired Rothschild to advise on a possible initial public offering of Europcar Groupe SA, one of Europe’s biggest car-hire companies, people with knowledge of the matter said.