July 22, 2020 / 10:15 AM / 22 days ago

China's Didi Chuxing launches standalone, cheaper ride-hailing service

FILE PHOTO: A substitute driver arrives for a training session at Didi Chuxing's Designated Driving office in Beijing, China January 16, 2020. REUTERS/Florence Lo/File Photo

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s Didi Chuxing said on Wednesday it has launched a new standalone ride-hailing service that targets younger customers and offers cheaper rides compared to its main app.

Didi, China’s biggest ride-hailing company and backed by Japan’s SoftBank, said in a statement the new service is named “Huaxiaozhu” and that it has already been launched in some cities in China’s southwestern province of Guizhou and the eastern province of Shandong.

The new service is not embedded in Didi’s existing platform. Huaxiaozhu has a separate app with a logo that looks like a money pot.

“Spending less money means saving more money,” Huaxiaozhu said in a post on its official Weibo account announcing the launch.

Rides booked via Huaxiaozhu start from as low as 5.5 yuan ($0.79) and users can earn discount vouchers for rides by participating in activities offered by the app, such as recommending the service to friends.

The launch of Huaxiaozhu follows Didi’s roll-out of new delivery and logistics services this year in an expansion of its operations in China.

It also comes after Didi CEO Cheng Wei said in April the company aimed to complete 100 million orders a day and have 800 million monthly active users globally by 2022.

Didi said on Wednesday an initial public offering (IPO) was not a priority for the company and that it did not have any plan for one after Chinese media reported it was preparing to float its shares in Hong Kong.

Reporting by Yilei Sun and Yingzhi Yang in Beijing, and Brenda Goh in Shanghai; Editing by Louise Heavens and Tom Hogue

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