China’s car hailing giant Didi Chuxing spins off premier service as new brand for affluent users
Didi Chuxing, China’s largest ride-hailing platform, has spun off its premier service as a stand-alone brand as the company targets affluent users amid intensified competition.
“China is gradually leading the world in bike-sharing, ride-sharing and smart traffic management, and that should include car on-demand services as well,” Cheng Wei, founder and chief executive of the company, said at the launch event in Beijing on Friday.
The Didi announcement comes amid intensified competition in China’s ride sharing market. On Thursday, Shouqi launched an English language version of its ride-hailing app in a move aimed at expats travelling and working in the country. Over the past two years the ride-hailing market has also attracted new players like Meituan Dianping, the country’s largest on-demand service provider, and Caocao Zhuanche, backed by travel platform giant Ctrip and carmaker Geely.
Didi took over Uber’s China operations in 2016 after the two companies competed in a brutal price war. Soon after, Apple invested US$1 billion in Didi.
Cheng said the Didi Premier service brand was part of a broader effort to enhance the user experience across Didi's mobility services. “We expect to see the rise of more exciting family brands as we broaden our business to cover the entire transportation industry chain,” he said.
Didi wants to offer quality and standardised services for customers travelling to China from different parts of the world, so they develop a sense of trust and intimacy with the brand, he added.
China’s car-sharing market has a potential value of 1.8 trillion yuan (US$287 billion), with daily rentals likely to grow from 8.16 million in 2015 to 37 million this year, according to EvCard, the Shanghai-based electric car rental subsidiary of SAIC Motor, which has also entered the ride hailing business.
Launched in August 2014 as Didi’s first non-taxi offering, the Premier service was the start of the company’s product diversification which now includes 11 services available from a single app, including bike-sharing and car rental.
Upgraded services being offered as part of the premier brand spin-off include independent 24-7 customer service lines, and real-time hailing for the disabled and passengers with children who need extra attention such as protection seats and entertainment, according to Joss Fu Qiang, head of Didi’s premier mobility group.