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Freeman H. Shen, Founder, Chairman & CEO of WM Motor, speaks during Fireside Chat on Day 2 of CNBC East Tech West at LN Garden Hotel Nansha Guangzhou on November 28, 2018 in Nansha, Guangzhou, China. 

Dave Zhong/Getty Images for CNBC International

Freeman H. Shen, Founder, Chairman & CEO of WM Motor, speaks during Fireside Chat on Day 2 of CNBC East Tech West at LN Garden Hotel Nansha Guangzhou on November 28, 2018 in Nansha, Guangzhou, China. 

Several Chinese auto and transportation industry leaders are preparing for a future in which people share cars, rather than own them individually.

“(The new generation), they’re not interested in the ownership. They’re probably more interested in accessibility,” Freeman Shen, founder and CEO of Chinese electric car company WM Motor, said last week at CNBC’s East Tech West conference in the Nansha district of Guangzhou, China.

Technological advances in the last several years have aided the rise of multibillion-dollar ride-hailing giants such as Uber and Didi. They, in turn, have challenged the traditional taxi driver system and cultivated a habit of on-demand car services for tens of millions of users globally despite ongoing safety concerns. Traditional automakers, many already trying to navigate rising interest in the electric vehicle market, are paying close attention to the ride sharing trend. Notably, General Motors is testing the waters with its own rental program.

In China, Feng Xing Ya, general manager of Guangzhou-based automaker GAC, also said the future of the auto industry lies in car sharing.

“(It’s) a challenge for the auto industry because people may buy fewer cars,” Feng said in Mandarin, according to a CNBC translation, during a Nov. 27 conference session.

Without giving much detail on a plan, Feng said he favored a strategy of entering — rather than avoiding — the car sharing economy, which he said can still generate a lot of income for a company.

However, such a rapid change in consumer tastes could give start-ups an advantage.

Shen, formerly a director at Fiat Chrysler and Chinese automaker Geely, said traditional automakers are too focused on selling cars rather than improving user experiences. He said his company’s focus on software and newness to the market means he has everything to gain and little to lose from a shift to ride sharing.

Shen founded WM Motor — which stands for “world champion” in German — in 2015 and the company has received more than $1 billion in funding, according to Crunchbase.

The rise of car sharing may also lead to new kinds of living environments in China as Beijing tries to encourage technological and urban developments through “smart cities.”

“If we can allocate the seats instead of vehicles … then we can use the transportation system more efficiently,” Henry Liu, vice president, chief scientist of smart transportation at Didi, said during a conference session.

“If you think about the future city, I think the future city will have much less in terms of parking spaces, road spaces, because we don’t really need that much of spaces for vehicles,” Liu said. “At that moment, I think we have an autonomous vehicle fleet. And they can serve the transportation demand.”

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Delta tests out offering most restrictive tickets to frequent flyers

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Delta Airlines Airbus A330-200 airplane with registration N851NW is seen landing at London's Heathrow Airport.

Nicolas Economou | SOPA Images | LightRocket | Getty Images

Delta Airlines Airbus A330-200 airplane with registration N851NW is seen landing at London’s Heathrow Airport.

Frequent flyers who like to pick their seats may need to shell out more miles for their next award ticket.

Delta Air Lines has been quietly offering its most restrictive tickets to loyal travelers on some routes. Since last month, Delta has been offering SkyMiles members no-frills basic economy award tickets, along side those for standard coach class and first or business class. Passengers booked in basic economy are barred from making changes to their tickets and from selecting a seat ahead of time, and also board last.

Delta was the first among the three biggest U.S. airlines to offer basic economy fares in 2012. American Airlines and United Airlines rolled out their own versions of the bare-bones fares last year. Executives have not been shy that they measure the success of this fare class by how many passengers book the higher fare to avoid the basic economy restrictions.

The frequent-flyer miles required for a free ticket varies by route and demand, but a search for Dec. 14-21 trip from Detroit to Charleston, South Carolina, was 47,000 Skymiles in basic economy and 50,500 for a regular coach ticket.

“It seems like a really risky move,” said Gary Leff, a travel and loyalty program specialist who noted the new offering in his View from the Wing blog. A ticket purchased with miles is “supposed to be an experience, not a pain.”

If the SkyMiles member chooses the basic economy award ticket on Delta’s website, a window pops up reminding the loyalty program member of the basic economy restrictions, much like it does if the traveler simply bought the ticket.

Delta is currently presenting the basic economy option on nonstop and connecting flights from Minneapolis to Phoenix and flights to and from Charleston from within the U.S. and Canada.

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Winter Storm Diego grounds more than 1,400 flights

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American Airlines aircraft at the gates in O'Hare International Airport, Chicago.

Scott Olson | Getty Images News | Getty Images

American Airlines aircraft at the gates in O’Hare International Airport, Chicago.

Airlines canceled more than 1,400 flights over the weekend, as severe weather from Virginia to Florida snarled air travel, with disruptions likely to spill over into the work week.

Winter Storm Diego dumped snow and sleet across the Carolinas and Virginia, causing treacherous travel conditions. The storm knocked out power to some 200,000 customers, Duke Energy said.

American Airlines said it canceled 1,100 flights that were scheduled for Sunday, on top of 225 that were called off Saturday, as it wound down operations ahead of the storm at its hub at Charlotte Douglas International Airport. The airport was the most affected on Sunday, with 1,100 cancellations — about three-quarters of its scheduled departures and arrivals, according to flight-tracking site FlightAware.com.

American waived date-change fees for travelers affected by the storm if they can fly through Dec. 15, and Delta Air Lines and JetBlue Airways also waived date change fees.

Southwest Airlines doesn’t not charge travelers a flat fee to change their dates, but said customers wouldn’t have to pay the difference in fare for changing their dates, if they can travel within two weeks of the original.

Some travel disruptions are set to continue beyond Sunday. American said it canceled 300 flights scheduled for Monday.

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China summons US ambassador to lodge protest over Huawei arrest 

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A man walking past a Huawei P20 smartphone advertisement is reflected in a glass door in front of a Huawei logo, at a shopping mall in Shanghai, China December 6, 2018. 

Aly Song | Reuters

A man walking past a Huawei P20 smartphone advertisement is reflected in a glass door in front of a Huawei logo, at a shopping mall in Shanghai, China December 6, 2018. 

China’s foreign ministry called in the U.S. ambassador on Sunday to lodge a “strong protest” over the arrest in Canada of Huawei Technologies Co Ltd’s chief financial officer, and said the United States should withdraw its arrest warrant.

Further measures will depend on U.S. actions, Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng told the U.S. ambassador, China’s Foreign Ministry added.

Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s global chief financial officer, was arrested in Canada on Dec. 1 and faces extradition to the United States, which alleges that she covered up her company’s links to a firm that tried to sell equipment to Iran despite sanctions.

The executive is also the daughter of the founder of Huawei.

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