Didi Kuaidi offers free chauffeur service to fight off Uber advances
Fri 22 May 2015
Chinese taxi-hailing app Didi Kuaidi has today announced that it will be offering 1 billion yuan (approx. £103mn) worth of free rides to promote its new chauffeur service and to help fight off competition from global industry giant Uber.
The Alibaba and Tencent-backed firm is moving into the ride-sharing and carpooling arena after having claimed an estimated 99% of the domestic taxi-hailing market.
The give-away is expected to hit Uber hard, as well as local rival Yidao Yongche, among other startups fighting to win a stake in the rapidly growing transport services sector in the world’s most heavily populated country.
Together Didi and Kuaidi, who joined forces at the beginning of the year, now dominate the car-hailing industry in China – accounting for 78% of all ride bookings. Uber trails with 11% in third position, according to a recent study by industry research group Analysys International.
“Three years from now, our goal is to allow everyone to hail a taxi or get a ride within three minutes and to serve 30 million people per day,” said Cheng Wei, chief executive officer at Didi Kuaidi.
According to Wei’s statement this morning, starting from 25th May commuters in 12 Chinese cities will have the opportunity to enjoy free chauffeur rides every Monday for a month.
The company’s aim is to become the world’s largest “one-stop transportation platform,” offering commuters a range of services including taxi-hailing mobile apps, carpooling and luxury chauffeur rides.
Didi Kuaidi overcame a major hurdle earlier this week after the Shanghai government agreed to regulate its taxi-hailing platform – the first Chinese locality to formally recognise the service and officially register its vehicles in the city’s transport network.
“It is the very first breakthrough in reforming the designated driving services,” said Li Min, a Didi spokesperson. “Didi is the first car-hailing software company involved in such a program with the government and there are no other cities joining Shanghai on this front at the moment.”
According to Didi Kuaidi it is looking to discuss regulatory developments with other local governments, although no specific city names were revealed.
Alibaba and Tencent own 10% and 13% stakes in Didi Kuaidi respectively.