Future of transport

Didi Kuaidi offers free rides in 338 Chinese cities following record-breaking US$2 bln fundraising

PUBLISHED : Monday, 13 July, 2015, 9:40am
UPDATED : Friday, 04 September, 2015, 1:07pm

Market leading Chinese car and taxi-hailing app Didi Kuaidi is offering free rides in hundreds of cities across mainland China following a record-breaking funding round.

On July 13 and 20, customers can enjoy a free ride of up to 10 kilometres, a discount of around 13 to 17 yuan (US$2.10-2.70). The "Orange Monday" scheme is being promoted by a number of celebrities and business leaders, including Tencent chairman and founder Pony Ma Huateng, angel investor Xu Xiaoping, and director Jia Zhangke.

Didi Kuaidi, which was formed in February by a partnership between previously competing apps Didi Dache and Kuaidi Dache, controls more than 90 per cent of China's taxi-hailing market. Last week the firm announced that it had raised US$2 billion in a single fundraising round, breaking Facebook's record of US$1.5 billion and giving the company cash reserves of more than US$3.5 billion.

Some of that money will go towards the Orange Monday promotion. According to research firm Analysys, Didi Kuaidi processes around 3 million daily rides on its taxi-hailing app, meaning the scheme could cost it as much as 102 million yuan (US$16.3 million) across the two days.

China's taxi-hailing market is no stranger to big spending. Prior to their merger, Didi and Kuaidi spent a combined 500 million yuan (US$80.3 million) on driver and passenger subsidies as they tussled for market share.

The target of the latest promotion is likely San Francisco-based Uber. They company recently announced it was investing US$1 billion in its China operations, with chief executive Travis Kalanick saying the market was the "#1 priority" for Uber's global team.