Yet another ridesharing app is about to have a crack at Sydney, and yes I’m still going to refer to their cars as “Ubers”.
Chinese platform DiDi will launch on March 16 with a few perks that it hopes will lure both drivers and riders from the likes of Uber, Ola and Bolt.
Passengers who sign up in the next month will receive half price rides for the first month after the app launches.
Drivers who join the platform in the next three weeks will only have to pay a service fee of 5% of fares (the average fee is 12%) during the launch period, and those who refer two friends to the app will have the service fee waved entirely for that four week span.
DiDi’s booking fee, charge per minute, charge per kilometre and cancellation fee are all slightly cheaper than those of Uber and Ola. Drivers also get to keep a larger share of each fare.
As ridesharing becomes more formal and entrenched in NSW, DiDi is looking to tackle the country’s largest city with more than just fleet size.
“We are eager to work alongside local stakeholders in the Sydney transportation industry, along with using leading AI technologies and local operational expertise, to innovate and build a better, trusted product with the aim to be Sydney’s preferred ridesharing platform,” said Lyn Ma, the company’s Australian general manager.
DiDi launched in Geelong in 2018 and has since expanded to over 2,000,000 drivers in Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane, the Gold Coast and beyond. It’s the largest ridesharing app in China, where it commands around 80% of the market and even acquired the local division of Uber.
This enormous growth is not without controversy. In 2018, after two passengers were murdered by drivers in separate incidents, the hashtag #DeleteDidi trended on Chinese social media. In response, the DiDi issued an open letter admitting it had been too fixated on growth at the expense of passenger safety.
DiDi’s Australian operations have already attracted the ire of drivers when the company changed its service fee structure from a flat rate of 5% to a performance-based system where drivers on average paid 12% of fares.
This cut drivers’ wages, meaning they had to make 30 trips or more a week and accept 9 out of 10 rides, among other targets, in order to qualify for the previous low rates.
Time will tell if Sydney drivers will flock to DiDi’s rate structure, and if passengers will follow.