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GM promoting employee carpooling app... in China

The automaker's latest foray into alternative transportation is a ride-share app for its Shanghai-based workers.

Qilai Shen

General Motors has introduced a new carpooling experience for its employees in Shanghai. The in-house-developed mobile app is a pilot program that is part of the automaker's drive to "gain a better understanding of urban mobility issues and insights into car-sharing user experiences," GM said in a release.

The app will connect some 700 General Motors China employees who work in Shanghai. It will enable drivers to communicate with other employees about their drive route into and from the company's headquarters, about their departure times, as well as how many empty seats are in their vehicle. Employees seeking rides can also submit requests, and the app will automatically match prospective drivers and riders.

Following the high-profile success of services like Uber and Lyft, GM has been researching various approaches to car- and ride-sharing programs all over the globe.

Like nearly every other automaker, The General has been working hard to develop autonomous cars. Many industry experts are predicting that the advent of the self-driving automobile will trigger a seismic shift in the auto industry, disrupting today's dominant private ownership model and bring about a dramatic escalation in the popularity of car- and ride-sharing services. As one of the world's largest automakers, GM is telegraphing that it is trying to get a handle on the changing face of mobility technology in order to survive and prosper in a self-driven world.

Part of GM's Urban Active Projects initiative, the new Shanghai ride-sharing app isn't the company's only foray into such programs. Last October, the Detroit-based automaker announced Let's Drive NYC, a residential car-sharing program. Right now, that program is exceedingly modest in scale, as it's confined to residents of a single 479-unit luxury apartment complex in Manhattan, the Ritz Plaza. If successful, however, GM has said it may expand the program to other locations.

GM also has a number of "internal campus-based" car- and ride-sharing initiatives in the US, China and Europe, and it has pledged to announce more such programs early in 2016.

"This initiative will further expand our activities in alternate transportation models in one of our most important markets in the world. It will help us learn more about vehicle user behavior as we develop business models for future global mobility solutions," said Julia Steyn, GM vice president, Urban Active.