Yesterday, Didi announced that it is re-launching its ‘hitchhiking’ service, which was suspended more than a year ago because of two murder cases of female passengers.
The trial will be launched in 7 cities (Harbin, Taiyuan, Shijiazhuang, Changzhou, Shenyang, Beijing & Nantong) from 20 Nov onwards. A number of rules and product restrictions will apply to ensure customer safety.
One particular policy, which caused a bit of controversy in China, states that the service is available from 5am to 11pm, but only 5am to 8pm to female passengers.
The service is free during the trial period.
According to media reports in China (always take with a pinch of salt), the hitchhiking service contributed to almost 90% of the profit Didi makes. Having that in suspension put a severe strain in Didi’s valuation.
Meituan and a number of aggregators have entered the market in the meantime – while they probably did not put any real pressure to Didi’s performance numbers, the repeated attacks make the (battle-hardened) defender and investors weary.
Whether the hitchhiking service will make a smooth come back – no one knows for sure. However, this time Didi is playing it much much more carefully.
Wish them success.