On the same day that Chinese authorities were said to have begun regulating the ride-hailing business, a state-owned taxi company has launched its own cab-booking app as an answer to the rise of disruptive services such as Didi Chuxing and Uber, Sina Tech reported on Wednesday.
Shou Yue is the first online-to-offline premium car rental service officially approved by the Beijing traffic authorities. According to its proprietors – Shouqi Car Rental and Xianglong Taxi Company, both of which are state-owned enterprises – the service will dispatch a total of 500 high-end vehicles to the airport, luxury hotels and popular shopping districts, and provide standardized printable receipts (or fapiao).
This marks yet another Internet-aided transformation of the traditional industrial sector, part of “Internet Plus”, a state strategy promoted by Chinese premier Li Keqiang to boost economic growth through technology adoption.
The flat rate fare for a ride with Shou Yue is RMB 16. Mileage will be charged at RMB 2.8 for each extra kilometre past the first three kilometers. Most of the vehicles come in two types: a luxury sedan and the executive Buick GL8 model. Other amenities include free Wi-Fi connectivity, mobile phone chargers, paper tissues, and umbrellas. Targeting individuals and businesses with deeper pockets, fares for Shou Yue are higher than that of regular taxis.
Although Uber and Didi Chuxing each have their own premium car service, they remain in legal limbo, as Chinese authorities say both platforms have encouraged privately-owned and unlicensed vehicles to profit without being regulated.
Didi Chuxing, a billion-dollar venture backed by e-commerce juggernaut Alibaba and social network Tencent, controls 80 percent of the overall ride-hailing market in China and recently raised USD three billion. Uber China, the second largest player in the country, has raised USD 1.2 billion and is working closely with search engine giant Baidu.