Didi Kuaidi to ex­pand to 400 cities within three months

China Daily (Canada) - - LIFE - By MENGJING mengjing@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Didi Kuaidi, China’s largest mo­bile-based ride-on-de­mand ser­vice provider, said it is ex­pand­ing its pri­vate-car hail­ing ser­vices to more than 400 cities in the next three months, putting in place what it claims is the largest rideshar­ing net­work in the world.

The pri­vate-car hail­ing ser­vice is al­ready avail­able in 259 Chi­nese cities, and prof­itable in 100 of those, in­clud­ing Xi­a­men, Fu­jian prov­ince and Linyi in Shan­dong prov­ince, said Stephen Zhu, its vi­cepres­i­dent of cor­po­rate strat­egy.

“We hope to make the ser­vice avail­able in 400 cities by Chi­nese Lu­nar New Year, in Fe­bru­ary 2016,” he said.

“Our long-term goal is to pro­vide car-on-de­mand ser­vices to 30 mil­lion peo­ple daily and have 10 mil­lion ve­hi­cles reg­is­tered on our plat­form within three years.”

The com­pany’s growth plan is be­ing seen as ag­gres­sive but achiev­able by in­dus­try ob­servers, es­pe­cially af­ter the firm had built a solid po­si­tion in big cities.

Didi Kuaidi claims to have a 90 per­cent share of Beijing’s pri­vate-car hail­ing mar­ket, pro­cess­ing more than 1 mil­lion daily re­quests from pas­sen­gers — about eight times the num­ber of to­tal re­quests cur­rently be­ing made in New York.

Zhang Xu, an an­a­lyst with Beijing-based Analysys In­ter­na­tional, said that busi­ness in some of China’s smaller cities will never be as thriv­ing as it is in the ma­jor pop­u­la­tion cen­ters.

“But to gain new growth mo­men­tum, Didi Kuaidi needs to pen­e­trate more smaller cities and cover more peo­ple,” he said.

The Min­istry of Trans­port pub­lished a draft reg­u­la­tion in Oc­to­ber that prac­ti­cally bans pri­vate cars from tak­ing busi­ness us­ing car-hail­ing apps.

But that has not stopped play­ers from ex­pand­ing their ser­vices while lob­by­ing for more wig­gle room within those guide­lines be­fore the fi­nal reg­u­la­tions are ap­proved.

Just last week, Didi Kuaidi’s ri­val Uber Tech­nolo­gies Inc also an­nounced plans to ramp up its ex­pan­sion in 2016.

The United States-based firm, which op­er­ates in 21 cities in China, said cities with more than 2 mil­lion peo­ple will be its main tar­gets next year. There are at least 250 such cities in China.

Wang Xiaofeng, an an­a­lyst with For­rester Re­search Inc, said com­pe­ti­tion will be fierce as the two ri­vals bat­tle it out for con­trol of smaller cities.

“But I don’t think it will be cut­throat. As far as I can see, Uber is not the kind of com­pany to of­fer big cash in­cen­tives to grab users from Didi Kuaidi.

“In­stead, it has been launch­ing in­no­va­tive mar­ket­ing cam­paigns to build brand rep­u­ta­tion, just as it has in the US,” she said.

Fig­ures from Analysys In­ter­na­tional show Didi Kuaidi still dom­i­nates China’s pri­vate-car hail­ing mar­ket with 83.2 per­cent in the third quar­ter, leav­ing Uber a dis­tant sec­ond with 16.2 per­cent.

Also on Tues­day, Didi Kuaidi launched a newser­vice called ‘Ex­press Pool’, which al­lows car­pool­ing for pas­sen­gers tak­ing its ‘Ex­press’ ser­vice, which it said was away to im­prove driv­ers’ in­come and lower travel costs.

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