Didi Chuxing, China’s Uber, to enter ‘car-sharing’ market with US$151m investment
The country’s largest ride-hailing app operator aims to build a fleet of electric cars and other new-energy vehicles for its proposed new service
Didi Chuxing, the largest ride-hailing app operator in China, plans to enter the country’s rapidly growing car-sharing services market with an investment of at least 1 billion yuan (US$151 million).
That move would enable the Beijing-based company to further expand its nascent car-rental business, while creating an online marketplace for other car-rental firms to link with potential customers.
Cheng Wei, the founder and chief executive of Didi, said users will be able to conveniently lease a car with a smartphone app, just like what people do when they hail a ride.
The car-sharing business still faces a lot of challenges, such as the difficulty to find parking places, according to remarks by Cheng at China’s annual World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, which were confirmed by the company.
That will also put Didi in direct competition with the likes of SAIC Motor Corp, whose Shanghai-based electric car rental subsidiary EvCard operated 8,400 electric cars in 20 mainland cities as of June this year.
Most of the companies involved in China’s car-sharing market are domestic car manufacturers, which have jumped on the “flexible mobility” bandwagon by providing apps to encourage people to rent electric cars amid China’s national drive to become a dominant player in the global electric vehicle industry.
More than 95 per cent of an estimated 30,000 cars now being used in China’s booming car-sharing market are new energy vehicles, a classification that includes electric cars, plug-in hybrids and fuel-cell cars, according to a report from global consulting firm PwC.
Didi, which acquired Uber’s China business last year, has been keen to tap into environmentally-friendly mobility technologies as it bets big on green energy cars to further develop its business.
In November, Didi announced a joint venture to build an electric vehicle charging network for universal use across the country, a service designed to interconnect existing charging stations and put these on Didi’s platform.
More than 260,000 electric vehicles currently run on Didi’s platform out of a global total of 2 million, making the company the world’s largest electric vehicle fleet operator. Cheng had earlier said the company will expand its fleet of electric vehicles to 1 million by 2020.