SHANGHAI—China’s big tech companies are circling the auto-repair business in a bid to capture the boom in vehicle maintenance as the country’s vast car fleet begins to age.
Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and affiliates of Tencent Holdings Ltd., the two superpowers of the Chinese web, are confronting the country’s thousands of mom-and-pop repair shops with the choice of joining one of their new smartphone-based networks or becoming less relevant to China’s fast-growing ranks of digital consumers.
Alibaba’s strategy is to link its popular Tmall e-commerce platform with a new physical chain of Tmall-branded garages to create a maintenance service that starts on a smartphone and ends in a bricks-and-mortar store. Tencent has two affiliates that are both building new garages and joining with existing ones to provide physical endpoints for online auto-part sales.
China’s national car fleet quadrupled in size in the past decade to 260 million cars, according to …