China goes electric
Chinese ride-hailing firm Didi Chuxing is rolling out an electric car sharing service. The company, which acquired Uber China in 2016, is partnering with leading automakers on the initiative, among them China’s BYD and BAIC BJEV, plus the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance and Ford partners Changan Automobile and Zotye Automobile.
Didi is looking to put together a fleet of 1m electric cars by 2020, an attainable target given it already had more than 200,000 up and running at end-2017. In total, the company has some 450m users and 20m-plus drivers.
What this means?
The Chinese government is determined to shift the economy away from fossil fuels and Didi is showing real intent here. In November, the firm announced a joint venture with Sweden’s NEVS, which owns Saab, to build EVs, and the authorities have given the latter permission to build those electric cars at its Tianjin plant.
Didi is also developing charging networks in China that will not only serve its own fleet but also the general public. It will build stations under the Global New Energy Vehicle Service banner, a JV with Beijing-based Global Energy Interconnection Development and Cooperation Organization (GEIDCO) which is focused on sustainable energy.
“The future of transport is new energy vehicles, and ridesharing will be a key link in promoting new energy on the road,” says Didi CEO Cheng Wei.
Where is it leading?
Over 260m people in China will use a ride-sharing service this year, rising to 290m in 2019, according to eMarketer forecasts.
“Though partly attributable to lavish subsidies doled out to attract passengers, the inability of public transport infrastructure to keep pace with the rapid urban migration and a general enthusiasm for new technology has helped to popularise transport sharing in China,” said Shelleen Shum, eMarketer’s senior forecasting analyst. “Despite recent attempts by the government to regulate ride sharing in China, we expect demand for transport sharing services to continue to grow.”