Didi Chuxing to Trial Luxury Ride-Hailing Service with Tesla & Mercedes Benz Vehicles

Didi Chuxing to Trial Luxury Ride-Hailing Service with Tesla & Mercedes Benz Vehicles

Author: Eric Walz   

Didi Chuxing, often referred to as the "Uber of China" plans to launch a pilot ride-hailing service in Japan using luxury cars from Tesla and Mercedes Benz the company said.

The ride-hailing firm will launch a new service called "DiDi Premium" later this month in some areas in Tokyo in a move to diversify its business in Japan, the representative told Reuters via a text message on Tuesday.

Didi's premium models for the service include Tesla Model S sedans, Mercedes Benz S-class sedans and Lexus LS series sedans, and Didi hopes to eventually expand it to other major Japanese cities.

Outside of Tokyo, Didi offers taxi-hailing services in the Japanese cities of Osaka, Kyoto and Nagoya.

Didi's ride-hailing app is similar to Uber and Lyft. Customers can opt to be picked up by a driver using their personal vehicle or a taxi. Uber also offers a premium service called "Uber Black" using professional drivers. Customers that opt for an Uber Black vehicle can choose a luxury sedan or SUV with seating for up to six passengers.

In 2016, Didi Chuxing made headlines when it pushed Uber out of China. Uber had planned to dominate China's ride-hailing industry but faced tough competition from Didi in its home country. The two companies engaged in a fierce price war to gain market share that Uber could not win.

"Didi has been a fierce competitor," said former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick at the time. "Sustainably serving China's cities, and the riders and drivers who live in them, is only possible with profitability."

Didi Chuxing was founded in 2012, three years after Uber. The company has about 550 million registered users in China. Like Uber, Didi is also working on an autonomous ride-hailing service.

Didi Chuxing's most recent valuation was $57 billion in early October, while Uber, which was once the world's most valuable startup has fallen to $46 billion amid investor concerns over Uber's ability to turn a profit.

In July, Toyota's luxury division Lexus said it would invest $600 million in Didi Chuxing and a new joint venture as the companies seek to develop connected and electric vehicle technologies in China. Toyota said the goal was also to introduce and promote the widespread use of electric vehicles for future mobility services in China.

Eric Walz
Eric Walz
Originally hailing from New Jersey, Eric is a automotive & technology reporter covering the high-tech industry here in Silicon Valley. He has over 15 years of automotive experience and a bachelors degree in computer science. These skills, combined with technical writing and news reporting, allows him to fully understand and identify new and innovative technologies in the auto industry and beyond. He has worked at Uber on self-driving cars and as a technical writer, helping people to understand and work with technology.
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