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Didi Chuxing aims at building world's biggest network of shared cars
Didi Chuxing, China's biggest ride-hailing company announced a grand plan for global expansion and building the world's biggest car-sharing platform in 10 years at a news event this Tuesday, aiming to provide what it calls “one-stop mobility” services. For achieving the goal, Cheng Wei, the CEO and founder of Didi, said the company would first quadruple its 450 million user base and put in place 10 million purpose-built new-energy vehicles.

The second-largest private company in the world also said it will form the Didi Auto Alliance by joining hands with 31 foreign and domestic companies in the automotive industry. With the partners' expertise in technologies like intelligent driving, electric cars, charging stations, and battery manufacturing, and Didi's enormous user base and big data analysis of their rides, the D-Alliance has made public its ambition of replacing car ownership with an extensive network of new-energy cars backed by AI technologies, and follow-up services including maintenance and insurance.

Among the first 31 members of the D-Alliance, there are the world's three biggest automaker groups—Volkswagen, Toyota Motor and the Franco-Japanese alliance of Renault and Nissan Motor, and Mitsubishi Motors, in addition to China's two largest electric-vehicle makers, BYD and Beijing Automotive Group, battery maker Contemporary Amperex Technology, digital map developer NavInfo, and wireless carrier China Unicom, according to a report by Nikkei Asian Review.

According to thepaper.cn, a Shanghai-based news portal, the alliance would be responsible for the design and standard-setting of new-energy cars besides pushing the global operation of the car-sharing platform. Yang Jun, vice president of Didi, indicated they've got a “D1” project going on to design the first generation purpose-built car.

It's widely believed that global expansion is the company's long-held strategy and with acquisition efforts, its roadmap for international layout has become more clear, with its continuing investments into online ride-hailing platforms across the world which include Lyft in the US, Crab in southeast Asia, Taxify in Italy, Careem in Israel, Ola in India and 99Taxi in Brazil.

Cheng Wei, the CEO and founder of Didi Chuxing talked about the international strategy in an interview with Caijing, a Beijing-based magazine, “We would set up business to engage in those markets which are more open, while in those comparatively closed ones, we will form joint ventures with local partners by transferring our technologies to them.”

Didi, which has positioned itself as a carrier, has embarked on a grand plan to connect the entire industrial chain with new-energy cars at the center. In Cheng's view, new-energy car would be the best choice for developing car-sharing businesses, given that it does not consume gasoline and so is much more cost-efficient.

Currently, there are already 260,000 electric vehicles registered with the Didi platform, occupying over 30 percent of all in use. By 2020, the company plans to put one million electric cars into use and by 2028, the figure is expected to reach 10 million, according to information provided by its official website.

By striding into the car-sharing business, the company would find itself in competition with a team of automakers at home and abroad, like Ford, Benz, BMW, Geely, Chang'an and SAIC, which have all invested in the burgeoning business or even proposed to be recast from being a carmaker into “mobility providers”. Behind the confidence is the perception that consumers nowadays would be ready to change their roles from car owners to users of shared cars.

Didi's new-energy car-sharing business would be kicked off first in China, which has become the biggest market for electric cars in 2015 thanks to government subsidies and environmental concerns shared by consumers. Cheng Wei predicted that in the future, supercities in countries like Brazil, Mexico and India would follow in China's footsteps considering that many families in these countries could not afford to buy one car for one’s personal use.

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