Source: Business Insider SA
China’s leading e-hailing service is expanding into South Africa, challenging a market dominated by Bolt and Uber. The official launch, which brings DiDi Chuxing to Cape Town, follows a successful pilot programme conducted throughout March in Gqeberha.
Founded in 2012, DiDi Chuxing is the world’s largest e-hailing service, with an estimated 550-million users and more than 30-million drivers across 16 countries. The tech company’s latest foray into the South African market comes amid talks of a public listing after raising $21.2-billion (R315-billion) in venture capital, with major backing from SoftBank Group.
By comparison, Uber has an estimated 93-million active users and 4-million drivers in 80 countries.
On 1 March, DiDi launched a limited pilot programme in Gqeberha to gauge interest in the South African market. The trial signed up more than 2,000 drivers who provided transport to 20,000 residents, according to Stephen Zhu, the head of DiDi’s international business.
The South African version of the app has been officially unveiled and is available for download but is limited to users in Cape Town. The first phase of the expansion focuses on recruiting drivers who won’t need to split their fares with DiDi – noted as a “0% commission” by the e-hailing service – for the first month after signing-up on the app.
The number of available drivers is limited during the recruitment phase though, which increases waiting time and prices, especially during peak traffic hours.
DiDi currently offers “express” transport to passengers, which is charged at a base fare of R15 and a distance rate of R10 per kilometre. These fares are, however, subject to “dynamic pricing” fluctuations which are similar to Uber’s surge pricing. During peak hour traffic or when drivers are limited, fares are increased according to a standard rate multiplier.
DiDi’s “express” service is the equivalent of Bolt’s standard ride and UberX, in terms of passenger capacity.
In addition to being more expensive than both Uber and Bolt, DiDi’s passenger service is currently limited to the “express” offering, while the other two competitors offer even more affordable options through compact rides.