Tag Archives: Ridehailing

Indian ride-hailing firm Ola to launch 10,000 electric vehicles over 12 months
April 16, 2018 6:00 am|Comments (0)

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Indian ride-hailing firm Ola, backed by Japan’s SoftBank Group will launch 10,000 electric three-wheelers in the country over the next 12 months as part of a broader electrification plan, the company said in a statement on Monday.

FILE PHOTO: An employee speaks over his phone as he sits at the front desk inside the office of Ola cab service in Gurugram, previously known as Gurgaon, on the outskirts of New Delhi, India, April 20, 2016. REUTERS/Anindito Mukherjee/File photo

The move is part of a broader push by Ola to launch 1 million electric vehicles on its platform by 2021, it said in the statement, adding that it will work with various state governments, vehicle manufacturers and battery companies to meet its target.

Reporting by Aditi Shah; Editing by Swati Bhat

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Mideast ride-hailing app Careem resumes Ramallah services
March 28, 2018 6:00 am|Comments (0)

DUBAI (Reuters) – Middle East ride-hailing app Careem said on Wednesday it had resumed services in the Palestinian city of Ramallah in the Israeli-occupied West Bank after striking a deal with Palestinian transport authorities.

FILE PHOTO: An employee shows the logo of ride-hailing company Careem on his mobile in his office in the West Bank city of Ramallah July 17, 2017. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman

Dubai-based Careem suspended services in Ramallah last November, four months after launching there, at the request of the Palestinian Authority, which exercises limited self-rule in the West Bank.

Careem said in a statement it had agreed with the Palestinian transport ministry for its fares to be the same as metered taxis. It has resumed services only with licensed taxi drivers but plans to later add private cars.

Careem believes its services will remain competitive even with fares the same as for regular taxis. It said the taxi booking and payment services on its app were convenient compared with hailing a cab on the street.

Ride-hailing apps have faced opposition in many markets around the world by making inroads into the traditional taxi industry.

Careem said it had signed up hundreds of drivers in the West Bank, where the Palestinian unemployment rate is high.

The ride-hailing company has raised over $ 500 million and expanded to over 90 cities across 13 countries predominantly in the Middle East since launching in 2012.

Careem started services in the West Bank city of Nablus and in Gaza City this year and said it would continue looking at adding more cities in the tiny Palestinian-ruled enclave.

Careem is a Middle East rival to U.S. company Uber Technologies [UBER.UL], which does not operate in the Palestinian territories.

Reporting by Alexander Cornwell; Editing by Mark Heinrich

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How China's ride-hailing giant Didi plans to challenge Uber in Mexico
March 19, 2018 6:00 am|Comments (0)

MEXICO CITY/SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Working quietly from a shared office space in one of Mexico City’s trendiest neighborhoods, China’s ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing is planning to hit its archrival Uber where it hurts.

A man walks by under an Uber logo in Mexico City, Mexico February 6, 2018. Picture taken on February 6, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso

Mexico is one of Uber Technologies Inc’s [UBER.UL] most prized and profitable markets. The San Francisco firm boasts a near monopoly here, with seven million users in more than three dozen cities. Which is precisely why Didi wants to knock Uber from that comfortable perch.

To learn how to conquer Uber, the Chinese firm is going straight to the source. It is poaching Uber employees for its Mexico management team. Didi employees are riding incognito with Uber drivers and chatting up passengers to pinpoint weaknesses, according to people familiar with its strategy. And Didi is thinking bigger than Uber, with ambitions for bike-sharing, scooters and motorcycles in Mexico, the people say.

The Chinese firm has deep pockets, thanks to blue-chip global investors that include Apple Inc and Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp [9984.T]. In the past year alone, it has pulled in nearly $ 10 billion to help fund global expansion.

“I would not want to go to war with Didi,” said Beijing-based investor and adviser Jeffrey Towson. “They don’t lose.”

But whether Didi can beat its nemesis here is far from certain. Mexico is the Chinese firm’s first attempt at building an operation from scratch outside of Asia – a costly gambit.

What is clear is that Didi is under pressure to keep growing to justify its $ 56 billion valuation. Latin America is the newest battleground for the old rivals, and Didi will be in enemy territory.

“It’s fundamentally different when you’re jumping across an ocean,” said IHS Markit analyst Jeremy Carlson.

DIDI ASCENDING

Didi Chuxing Technology Co is the world’s largest ride-hailing firm by number of rides, thanks to its commanding market share in China, where it has 450 million users. It completed more than 7.4 billion rides last year, not quite double Uber’s count.

Uber learned the hard way about Didi’s brawn. After waging an expensive campaign to crack the Chinese market, Uber in 2016 sold its operation to Didi in exchange for a 17.5 percent stake in the Chinese firm, which also made a $ 1 billion investment in Uber.

The titans continue to butt heads as they race to carve up the rest of the globe. Uber is the top dog in Latin America, where Brazil and Mexico rank among its largest markets outside the United States. In Mexico, Uber held an 87 percent market share as of August, according to Dalia Research, a Berlin-based consumer research firm.

(For a graphic on Uber’s market share in Latin America, see: tmsnrt.rs/2FhfZHo)

Didi wants to change that. Reuters was first to report that Didi had designs on Mexico, where it began recruiting employees last year.

The company declined to talk openly about its plans, but details of its strategy are emerging.

Nestled on the ninth floor of a WeWork shared office building in the capital’s Juarez neighborhood, Didi is building an operation from the ground up. In foreign markets such as India and the Middle East, it purchased stakes in existing companies. But Uber is so dominant in Mexico that there is no clear investment opportunity in a local competitor, according to people familiar with Didi’s thinking.

Hungry for experienced talent, Didi is aggressively recruiting current and former Uber employees, offering to nearly double their salaries in some cases, two people with knowledge of the matter said.

At the helm of Didi’s Mexico operation is Uber veteran Lin Ma, who helped launch Uber’s ill-fated venture in China. Now Didi’s director of international operations, Ma also worked on operations at 99, the Brazilian ride-hailing startup that Didi purchased at the end of last year, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Ma and others at Didi have so far poached at least five Uber managers and specialists in Mexico who have experience in operations, logistics, strategy, marketing and driver training, a review of LinkedIn profiles shows.

Ma declined to comment.

An Uber logo is seen outside an Uber car in Mexico City, Mexico February 6, 2018. Picture taken on February 6, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso

The company has yet to recruit drivers, and it is not clear which cities it will enter first, according to a person familiar with Didi’s strategy.

Rather than compete solely on price, the person said, Didi plans to promote safe drivers and fast response times; the company has built an algorithm to help it predict 15 minutes in advance where it should dispatch vehicles.

Didi is also considering offering bike-sharing, scooters and motorcycles in Mexico, while Uber so far has stuck to ride-hailing. A broad array of transport options helped Didi prevail in China.

But the biggest difference may come down to cash. To protect drivers, the person said, Didi will not handle cash fares in Mexico.

Uber, meanwhile, has pushed Mexican lawmakers hard for the right to accept cash in a region where tens of millions lack bank accounts. The move has generated business, along with controversy.

In Brazil, Uber saw a surge of robberies and murders of its drivers after the company began accepting cash there, according to a 2017 Reuters analysis. Uber says it has added tools to authenticate riders’ identities, better protecting drivers.

An Uber driver checks the route on a mobile phone inside his car in Mexico City, Mexico February 6, 2018. Picture taken on February 6, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso

Mexico has not seen a similar wave of attacks so far. Nevertheless, Uber’s position puts it at odds with regulators in some Mexican states.

While Didi appears to be sidestepping that obstacle, it faces cultural hurdles in Latin America, according to Daisy Wu, head of international business at Yeahmobi, which helps Chinese startups go global.

Latin American consumers generally prefer U.S. brands to Chinese brands, she said, and Chinese business culture can be off-putting to local employees.

“Most of the Chinese companies that have gone to Latin America are still trying to be successful,” Wu said.

Didi, for example, bewildered Mexico job candidates by trying to schedule interviews the week of Christmas.

“I was very surprised … I was thinking, should I cancel my vacation?” one applicant told Reuters.

UBER’S BATTLE

Uber’s lead in Latin America, meanwhile, has taken on heightened importance as it prepares for a potential initial public offering next year.

The company, which lost $ 4.5 billion last year, is facing fierce competition at home and in Asia, and a regulatory crackdown in Europe. It is also recovering from a year of scandals that saw co-founder Travis Kalanick forced out as chief executive in June amid multiple federal criminal probes and a workplace marred by sexual harassment allegations.

Andrew Macdonald, Uber’s vice president of operations for Latin America and Asia Pacific, said Uber is prepared to do what it takes to remain dominant in Mexico, a profitable market amid a sea of losses.

“Whether that’s more spending on customer acquisition or more deeply engaging with our existing customers, that will continue to be our focus,” he said.

Uber is committed to maintaining cheap fares for its basic service to keep its Mexican customers loyal, Macdonald said. But he said the company is considering adding more ride options such as upscale cars that would boost revenue.

If Uber is nervous about Didi stealing its lead in Mexico, it is not showing it. Macdonald said the learning curve is steep, something its rival is about to find out.

“Didi has significant bankroll,” Macdonald said. “But there are significant local complexities.”

Reporting by Julia Love in Mexico City and Heather Somerville in San Francisco; additional reporting by Noe Torres in Mexico City.; Editing by Marla Dickerson

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Fiat Chrysler, Waymo expand deal for self-driving public ride-hailing service
January 30, 2018 6:00 am|Comments (0)

DETROIT (Reuters) – Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV (FCA) will provide Waymo with thousands of Pacifica hybrid minivans as Alphabet Inc’s self-driving unit begins rolling out its first public ride-hailing service later this year, the companies said on Tuesday.

Depending on its scope and scale, the agreement could put pressure on the likes of Uber Technologies Inc and General Motors Co to speed up their efforts to start self-driving commercial ride-hailing services.

Waymo is part of a growing number of vehicle manufacturers, technology companies and tech startups looking to develop so-called robo-taxis over the next three years in North America, Europe and Asia. Most of those companies have one or more partners.

Fiat Chrysler provided Waymo with 100 Pacifica minivans refitted for self-driving testing in 2016, then 500 in 2017.

“Our partnership with Waymo continues to grow and strengthen; this represents the latest sign of our commitment to this technology,” Fiat Chrysler Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne said in a statement.

The companies said the automaker would start delivering “thousands” of minivans in late 2018. Waymo is due to begin offering a ride-hailing service to the public in Phoenix later this year.

“The additional Pacifica Hybrid minivans will be used to support Waymo as it expands its service to more cities across the United States,” the companies said.

Asked for details on the length of the agreement, a spokeswoman for Fiat Chrysler said the companies would not disclose terms.

Last week, Waymo said it began testing self-driving vehicles in Atlanta, bringing to 25 the total number of U.S. cities in which it is testing.

“The Pacifica Hybrid minivans offer a versatile interior and a comfortable ride experience, and these additional vehicles will help us scale,” Waymo CEO John Krafcik said.

Last November, Uber said it planned to buy up to 24,000 self-driving cars from Volvo as part of a non-exclusive deal from 2019 to 2021, marking the transition of the U.S. company from an app used to summon a taxi to the owner and operator of a fleet of cars.

Earlier this month, GM said it was seeking U.S. government approval for a fully autonomous car, one without a steering wheel, brake pedal or accelerator pedal, to enter the automaker’s first commercial ride-sharing fleet in 2019.

Reporting By Nick Carey

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