Didi Chuxing (滴滴出行) is to begin rolling out an electric vehicle developed with BYD Co (比亞迪) to its drivers, aiming to reduce costs in the world’s largest ride-hailing network.
The D1, the first model to have been built with ride-hailing in mind, is to ship to the start-up’s leasing partners across several Chinese cities, Didi Chuxing said.
Made by BYD, in which Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc is the largest shareholder, the vehicle has power-sliding doors and a driver assistance system.
Didi Chuxing in 2018 flagged its intention to team up with automakers to produce customized electric vehicles for its ride-hailing service.
The firm that defeated Uber Technologies Inc in China is hoping the D1 presents a more efficient option than traditional gasoline-powered vehicles.
It already hosts about 1 million electric vehicles, which can take advantage of a growing nationwide charging network, and provides as many as 60 million rides per day.
The company, valued at US$62 billion according to CB Insights, is still recovering from a 2018 regulatory crackdown on its vehicle-pooling service and the COVID-19 pandemic that has curtailed most transportation.
Rival Internet platforms such as Meituan Dianping (美團點評) are now challenging Didi Chuxing’s leadership in ride-hailing. To compete, the company is expanding into adjacent businesses, from bike sharing to grocery delivery, to attract and keep users.
Monthly active users across Didi Chuxing’s platforms in China have surpassed 400 million, it said this month.
Longer term, it is betting on autonomous driving — a hived-off unit that received US$500 million in funding from Softbank Group Corp’s Vision Fund. Its shares trade privately at a discount of as much as 40 percent to its peak valuation, Bloomberg reported this year.
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