Published: Sat, February 10, 2018
Hi-Tech | By Ellis Neal

China's Didi partners with SoftBank to launch taxi-hailing services in Japan

China's Didi partners with SoftBank to launch taxi-hailing services in Japan

The move into Japan underscores a recent push by Didi to beef up its presence in markets outside China, although it will face challenges to expand its services in a country where existing taxi companies are lobbying hard against deregulation.

The partnership will utilise Didi Chuxing's AI technology to build ride-hailing platforms that enhance efficiency for both operators and drivers, and will also see the two companies setting up a joint venture in Japan to manage the platform.

Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing announced a deal with Japanese telecom firm SoftBank on Friday to develop a taxi app in Japan, where services like Uber have struggled to make inroads.

Reuters provides more: "A person familiar with Didi's tie-up with the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance said the partnership was about looking at the possibility of supplying all-electric battery vehicle models for Didi's new service". US -based Uber Technologies is focusing on taxi-hailing here amid regulatory and other headwinds to its mainstay contract-driver-based business model.

Right now, Didi and SoftBank say they are exploring opportunities.

SoftBank itself holds stakes in Didi, Indian rival Ola and Southeast Asia´s Grab. Last month the Japanese firm became the largest shareholder in Uber.

Ride-hailing firms see Japan as a potentially lucrative market and are pressing regulators to ease stringent rules. Line's hailing service sits inside its app - which is Japan's most popular messenger - and it has integrated with taxi operators that include Nihon Kotsu, but it is unclear how popular it is now following its 2015 launch. The trial services for Japan´s taxi fleet, which will leverage Didi´s "deep learning-based demand prediction and smart dispatch systems", will initially roll out in cities including Osaka, Kyoto, Fukuoka and Tokyo.

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