- The Australian
- 12:00AM June 15, 2018
- DAVID SWAN
The Chinese behemoth, which is worth more than Uber with an approximate valuation of $US56 billion ($74bn), has conducted initial testing in Geelong and says it is now ready to expand into Melbourne and then the rest of Australia.
Didi general manager for Australia and New Zealand Dillon Ye told The Australian that ride-sharing users would prefer Didi’s focus on user experience and safety, adding that the company carried out a detailed market analysis before identifying Australia as the perfect target market.
“Australians have a real focus on embracing new technologies and trying new things, and those were big factors,” Mr Ye said. “We have been testing in Geelong and getting feedback from our riders and drivers. We wanted to optimise and polish our service before we can serve to bigger cities.”
The company is aware that it is entering into a crowded market, taking on not only Uber but Taxify, Ingogo, GoCatch, Ola and Oiii, and it is luring new users with a 50 per cent discount for the month of July as well as a $200 bonus for new drivers.
It also said it was the only ride-sharing app in Australia to offer 24/7 phone support for riders and drivers.
While new to Australia, the company carries about 30 million rides a day worldwide, far more than the combined daily rides of all other ride-sharing companies.
Mr Ye said the fact that Didi had set up a subsidiary in Australia meant it was here for the long haul.
“This is a very important market, it’s a long-term commitment,” he said. “We want to be a part of the local community.”
Ride-sharing is serious business, with Toyota this week sinking $US1bn into Grab, which bought Uber Asia. Didi is also a major investor in Grab.
Didi’s own investors include Apple, which invested $US1bn in 2016, along with Apple’s smartphone parts manufacturer, Foxconn, and fellow Chinese tech giants Tencent and Weibo.
Mr Ye said Didi’s ambitions go far beyond ride-sharing, with the company now working behind the scenes on artificial intelligence and smart city efforts, things it hopes it can bring to Australia one day.
The federal government has expressed security concerns over Chinese tech giant Huawei but Mr Ye said Didi had good relationships with the various levels of Australian government.
“We ensure we are complying with all the regulations for the market in Australia, and we’ve worked with local government closely. We cherish those relationships,” he said.
“We care about both rider and drivers’ safety and experience, and we ensure we are 100 per cent compliant with all the legislation.
“We hope our initial debut here will be a perfect one.”