Korean startup unicorn Socar is the top car-sharing platform in Korea. They went public in 2022, so technically, they are no longer a startup. But they have proven that a startup can become a major player in the transportation industry in a dense city such as Seoul. Socar has disrupted Korea’s traditional taxi industry and has become a popular alternative for people in Korea looking for on-demand transportation.

However, Socar has shown that the car-sharing business model can be challenging, as it involves significant investment in vehicles, insurance, and infrastructure. Socar has struggled to generate consistent profits and has seen its stock price go from 28,000 won to 21,000 won. Their market cap has dropped from $640 million to $555 million. However, the increasing demand for convenient, on-demand transportation services in Korea suggests that the car-sharing market will continue to grow and evolve in the coming years.

The Growth of the Mobility Industry in South Korea

Socar and other mobility startups have shown massive growth in the mobility industry in South Korea. They have proven that a mobility startup can become a startup unicorn. South Korea is one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world and is one of the leaders in the rollout of 5G technology. It also has a highly developed transportation infrastructure which provides a solid foundation for growth and innovation.

In recent years, the South Korean government has significantly invested in developing new transportation technologies, including electric and autonomous vehicles. This has created a favorable environment for the growth of the mobility industry and has attracted international companies to invest in the market. In addition, South Korea has a large and rapidly growing consumer market, with a growing demand for convenient and efficient transportation solutions. This includes traditional taxi services, car-sharing, and ride-hailing services, as well as new solutions like electric scooters and bikes.

What is Socar?

Socar Car Sharing

Socar is a South Korean car-sharing startup unicorn that was founded in 2011. The company operates a fleet of vehicles (over 20,000), which are available for rent by the hour or by the day. Furthermore, their car-sharing service allows customers to rent a car quickly without the hassle of ownership. The company’s app provides a convenient platform for booking and using its vehicles, and its network of pickup and drop-off locations makes it easy for customers to access its cars. They also have a super app that provides all-in-one mobility services. This includes an autonomous driving platform and charging station services for EVs and micromobility.

Socar has experienced significant growth in recent years and operates in several countries, including South Korea, Malaysia, and Australia. In South Korea, they hold over 85% of the market share and have more than 12 million users. Some of Socar’s major shareholders include SoftBank, SK Inc., Altos Ventures, and Lotte Rental.

Future Plans

Socar has plans to strengthen its services and expand into new territories through acquisitions. Their ultimate goal is to become the leading mobility super-app. By 2025, the company aims to generate 1 trillion won ($748 million) in revenue. To achieve this, Socar intends to maintain an annual revenue growth rate of at least 30% by 2025, according to Jaeuk Park, the CEO of Socar.

Socar Acquires Startups in Korea

Socar has been active in acquiring startups in Korea to better improve their services. One of the startups Socar acquired is Polariant. Korean startup Polariant was able to patent a way of tracking 3D positions with something called: Light PolarizationLight Polarization detects polarized light and digitizes it into dozens of numbers. Moreover, Polariant’s Polarized Light Sensing (PLS) solution can be used for places where GPS tracking can be difficult. These places include basement floors, underground parking, subways, airports, and malls.

Using that data, a 3D model can be calculated. Therefore it can precisely track your motions using artificial light and make a 3D image on the screen. They brought a lot of innovation to the indoor-positioning sector, including robotics, indoor navigation, and factory automation.

Many thought Polariant would get bought out by one of the top gaming companies in Korea. However, after getting an investment from Naver, Polariant was bought by Socar. This showed that Socar was interested in incorporating PLS technology for indoor tracking for their automobiles. Socar has been active in investing in the right technology startups in Korea to help them advance into other regions like Southeast Asia.