Sad­dling up

Didi, China’s ‘Uber’, is of­fer­ing a 2-wheeled al­ter­na­tive to rides

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - By MENGJING mengjing@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Didi Chux­ing, China’s largest car on-de­mand ser­vice provider, is gear­ing up to di­ver­sify its ur­ban trans­porta­tion of­fer­ings by adding bi­cy­cles to its ex­ist­ing prod­uct port­fo­lio.

Bei­jing-based Didi an­nounced on Mon­day that it has in­vested tens of mil­lions of dol­lars in ofo, a bike-on-de­mand startup cre­ated in 2014 on the cam­pus of Pek­ing Uni-ver­sity as a stu­dent project.

Didi said that China is the world’s most com­plex and di­ver­si­fied rideshare mar­ket with un­ri­valed po­ten­tial and pos­si­bil­i­ties. The two com­pa­nies will ex­plore strate­gic co­op­er­a­tion in ur­ban ride shares, in­clud­ing “of­fer­ing a qual­ity bike-shar­ing ex­pe­ri­ence on Didi’s plat­form,” it said in the state­ment.

The move is Didi’s lat­est ef­fort to ex­pand its pres­ence in new ar­eas af­ter it be­came the dom­i­nant player in China’s ride-hail­ing mar­ket with its merger with U ber China in Au­gust.

In­dus­try ob­servers said the in­vest­ment is ex­pected to of­fer Didi users an al­ter­na­tive mo­bil­ity so­lu­tion when four­wheel ve­hi­cles en­counter traf­fic jams, or they can use bikes to ar­rive at their fi­nal des­ti­na­tion af­ter get­ting off Didi buses.

Zhang Xu, a trans­port an­a­lyst with the Bei­jing-based in­ter­net con­sul­tancy Analysys, said that bike shar­ing ser­vices can serve as a good al­ter­na­tive to com­ple­ment Didi’s ex­ist­ing ve­hi­cles, in­clud­ing taxis, pri­vate cars and buses.

“Es­pe­cially in mega cities in China, there is strong de­mand to use bikes for short-dis­tance com­mutes, which is more ef­fi­cient and en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly,” he said.

The on­line bike-shar­ing mar­ket has been heat­ing up in China, thanks to ris­ing smart­phone us­age and lo­cal gov­ern­ments’ en­cour­age­ment of “green trans­porta­tion”.

Apart from ofo, an­other Bei­jing-based bike-shar­ing app named Mo­bike has also gained a lot of at­ten­tion as it rolled out thou­sands of its tai­lor-made bikes in Bei­jing this month.

Users can use apps to find the near­est avail­able bikes and un­lock bikes by scan­ning a quick re­spond code. Pay­ment can be made via smart­phones.

ZHANG TAO / FOR CHINA DAILY

Stu­dents in Zhengzhou, cap­i­tal of He­nan province, ride bi­cy­cles from the ofo plat­form.

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