Didi Chuxing, China’s largest ride-hailing company, plans to kick off a car rental service in the first half of 2018, reports Chinese tech media PingWest. This move comes as the company seeks to fill in the jigsaw puzzle of its plan in Chinese transportation scene.
For the rental service, Didi Chuxing plans to provide a platform where its partners in auto-making can either provide cars for rental or introduce their self-owned rental service to Didi’s over 450 million users. The platform could also introduce car financing, payment for parking lots and vehicle maintenance services to users.
Most of the car to be provided through Didi’s car rental service would be environment-friendly electric vehicles.
The ride hailer this Wednesday just inked a separate deal with automaker BAIC BJEV to collaborate on EV sharing. Earlier last month, KrASIA has reported that Didi struck a partnership with a group of 12 automakers from home and abroad, including BAIC BJEV, Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi and Geely, to launch an “open new energy car-sharing platform”.
Actually, at least three of Didi’s 12 partners have already mapped out their own plans for EV. For instance, Geely has strategically invested in Didi rival Caocao Zhuanche (曹操专车)，while Chery has invested in car rental startup GoFun. BAIC BJEV is behind GreenGo (绿狗租车), BAIC Mobility（华夏出行）, and Qingxiang Chuxing (轻享出行). Players in the local car-sharing market also include Zuche.com (神州租车), EVCARD, Pand-Auto (盼达用车), TOGO (途歌).
China became the world’s largest EV market in 2015 and its domestic car-sharing market is expected to grow at a more than 40% annualized growth until 2024, according to market researcher Global Market Insights. Although EV sales in China is growing steadily, the partnership with Didi Chuxing either by direct sales or by providing cars for rent, gives automakers an additional and potentially lucrative revenue stream.
Globally, automakers are racing to win a dominant place in the booming car-sharing market which is expected to reach USD 16.5 billion by 2024, according to a Global Market Insights report. Global automakers Daimler AG and BMW have stepped into the car-sharing business, respectively with services dubbed Car2Go and DriveNow.
Currently, passengers still need to walk a fare distance to the cars provided and EVs are presumably friendly only to short-distance travels because of the lack of charging piles outside of cities. But with more companies rushing to the sector, customers might enjoy better services and cheaper prices. Eventually, companies like Didi Chuxing might change the way we own vehicles, just like it has already changed the way we hail a taxi.
The Chinese ride hailer handles over 20 million rides per day, generating a huge amount of data that can be tapped into for its platform business, in terms of optimizing where to put its cars for rental and recommending the most needed services to users.
Two months ago, Didi Chuxing launched a bike-sharing platform and subsequently its self-owned bike-sharing brand. The company is also preparing to launch its food delivery services in 9 major cities in China.