Hellobike, one of China’s biggest bike-sharing platforms, is entering the country’s ride-hailing market aiming to take on Didi Chuxing.
“Since Hellobike has already cemented its dominance in the two-wheel travel field, our new ride-hailing business will help us stage a new ‘comeback’ story in the four-wheel travel field,” the Shanghai-based company said in a press release on Thursday titled “Hellobike low key tests the waters for ride-hailing, benchmarking against Didi Chuxing in the four-wheel industry”.
The company has already acquired licenses in “multiple cities” in China, started recruiting drivers and recently launched trial operations, according to the statement. A company spokeswoman declined to reveal in which cities the trial will be.
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Hellobike said that according to its research, there are limited options for getting taxis, and they can be expensive especially during rush hours and in areas with high demand, such as the central business district. Drivers also often face high commission fees and insufficient orders, particularly in small and medium-sized cities, the statement said.
“We want to create a ride-hailing product that is affordable to ordinary people,” said Jiang Tao, general manager of ride-hailing service at Hellobike, in the statement. “It will be an innovative platform to provide drivers with an additional option and Hellobike will charge a minimum commission compared to other mainstream online ride-hailing players, so as to benefit passengers and drivers.”
The company joins an industry dominated by Didi, which had 30 million monthly active users in September, 10 times more than the second most popular ride-hailing app Shouqi Yueche, according to a Trustdata report published Thursday. Other smaller players in the area include Caocao Chuxing, as well as food delivery giant Meituan and Alibaba Group Holding-owned AutoNavi.
(Alibaba owns the South China Morning Post.)
While China’s ride-hailing market was hit during Covid-19 lockdowns earlier in the year, it has gradually recovered. In the third quarter of this year, ride-hailing apps had 5 million daily active users on average, compared to 4.7 million in the previous two quarters, according to the Trustdata report.
Alibaba-backed Hellobike’s shared bicycles, which sport a blue-and-white livery, can be found in more than 400 cities in China. Last year, the company also launched carpooling services, which are now available in 300 Chinese cities and have served more than 5 million people, it said in the statement.
Didi, which also owns bike-sharing platform Qingju, primarily operates in China but has been expanding its footprint globally in markets such as Australia, Russia and Latin America. It now covers more than 260 major cities around the world and said that by the beginning of this year, it had delivered more than 1 billion trips in its international markets.
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