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September 18, 2015

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State-owned challenger to taxi apps

A new challenger backed by two state-owned taxi operators emerged yesterday to battle Chinese taxi-hailing and ride-on-demand provider Didi Kuaidi and rival Uber.

Two taxi operators in Beijing, Shou Qi Group and Beijing Xianglong Taxi Co, jointly launched a mobile app yesterday to let users book rides with licensed drivers in the capital.

The app was launched amid frequent friction between Chinese transport regulators and companies such as Didi Kuaidi and Uber that recruit private drivers and vehicles to offer rides, a practice many local transport regulators see as a violation of existing regulations.

The official ride-on-demand service also came on the heels of Didi Kuaidi’s US$100 million investment in US on-demand transport service Lyft, announced yesterday, as the Chinese firm lifts its game against Uber by teaming up with its rival in the United States.

Shou Qi said the online taxi-booking service targets high-end passengers with sedans and multi-purpose vehicles equipped with Wi-Fi, smartphone chargers, napkins and umbrellas.

The service is also monitored by local transport regulators and will sign up more of the city’s eligible taxi drivers and vehicles, steering clear of legal issues surrounding rides by private cars.

Shou Qi and Xianglong didn’t specify the size of their car fleets but said the new service is now on trial and available for booking around airports, hotels and shopping centers in Beijing.


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