Tencent-Backed Ride Hailing Firm OnTime Gets Major Investment Form Didi Chuxing

Didi Chuxing
Didi Chuxing app seen on a smartphone (Photo: Flickr.com / iphonedigital)

Beijing-based ride-hailing platform operator Didi Chuxing has reportedly made a huge investment into a new ride-hailing service called OnTime. The new service is also being backed by Chinese tech giant Tencent Holdings. Didi's decision to invest in the company is apparently its way of strengthening its strategic alliance with domestic and international operators.

In an announcement released this week, China's largest ride-hailing platform revealed that it had signed an agreement with Guangzhou Automobile Group Co (GAC Group) to back the new startup. The deal is part of the company's expansion into various tech innovations including ride-hailing operations, autonomous driving, fleet management, and other smart vehicle technologies.

Didi explained in its joint statement with GAC Group that the deal shows how both companies are committed to establishing an open and mutually beneficial mobility ecosystem. The company's founder and CEO Cheng Wei explained that the partnerships formed through the deal should ensure strong strategic alliances within the sector.

Along with Didi Chuxing and GAC Group, Guangzhou Public Transport was reportedly also a major investor in the new startup. Didi's total investment into OnTime was not disclosed. OnTime is expected to be launched in Guangzhou this year, with plans for further expansion into the Greater Bay Area.

As part of its deal, Didi will be providing OnTime with its invaluable knowledge in key areas such as transaction systems, customer service, response systems, and technology development.

To further expand its partnerships, Didi had opened its platform to its smaller rivals. Back in May, Didi launched a pilot program in Chengdu that allowed users to book ride via Miaozou on its platform. The ride-hailing service was previously only accessible on the online travel platform Tongcheng-Elong.

The new partnership comes at a pivotal time as new competitions from online platforms have placed added pressure on industry veterans. Earlier this month, Meituan Dianping launched a similar platform in over 10 cities in China. The service provided a way for users to compare different offers from different services. Included in the options were Geely's own Cacao Car ride-hailing service and Shouqi car rentals.

Meanwhile, Alibaba's maps app called AutoNavi has recently included an additional built-in service that allows users to book rides. The app currently has more than 100 million daily users, which means that it already has a captured market to offer its services.

A number of major domestic car manufacturers have also started to get into the ride-hailing business.

Last month, Xpeng Motors officially launched its mobility service in Guangzhou. State-owned car manufacturer Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp had also launched test ride-hailing programs in Shanghai since last year. International manufacturers have also gotten into the relatively new industry, with BMW becoming the first international carmaker to launch its own service in China. 

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