China’s Didi teams up with state-owned BAIC to deepen electric vehicle push

Didi Chuxing, China’s largest ride-hailing startup which claims over 550 million registered users, is deepening its focus on electric vehicles after it announced a joint venture with BAIC, a state-owned automotive giant.

‘Jingju’ — as the venture is called — is a partnership between Didi and BAIC affiliate Beijing Electric Vehicle that will develop “next-generation connected-car systems” using fleet management, AI and other tech, according to an announcement made today.

The exact scope of Jingju is not exactly clear from the details released so we’ve asked Didi for more information. We’ll update this post with more details as and when we get them.

Didi has long talked about plans to bring more environmentally-friendly vehicles into its fleet in line with efforts across China — Shenzhen, for example, has implemented electric taxis and buses. Back in late 2017, the company announced plans for its own EV charging network and, today, it claims that it has nearly 400,000 “new energy” vehicles on its platform. Didi says it clocked up 31 million registered drivers to date, so there’s obviously a lot of work to be done to raise the EV/hybrid representation.

But BAIC is an ideal partner to make that happen. Not only is it a key automaker in China but it has pledged to stop selling fuel-powered vehicles by 2025.

The joint venture is likely to tie into Didi’s existing driver services business, which helps drivers get access to services that include leasing and purchase financing, insurance, repairs, refueling, car-sharing and more. Essentially, with its huge army of drivers, Didi can get preferential rates from service providers, which means better deals for its drivers.

That, in turn, is helpful for recruiting new drivers and growing the business which is under threat because of new regulations that look set to limit the number of people who can drive for Didi.