Uber tries something new in Beijing with launch of not-for-profit ridesharing

Uber tries something new in Beijing with launch of not-for-profit ridesharing
Comments Off, 05/08/2014, by , in Asia Startup News by Tech in Asia

Uber, which first launched its app-connected limo service in Beijing in April, is now trying something new in the Chinese capital. Yesterday, Uber rolled out a ridesharing program especially for Beijing that’s called “People’s Uber”.

This new People’s Uber program is more like carpooling than Uber’s other services in the capital – UberBlack and UberX. Benjamin Chiang from Uber’s China team tells Tech in Asia that Uber vets the drivers accepted into the new ridesharing service and that the whole thing is handled inside the existing Uber app. Payments are also handled via the app. Chiang adds that People’s Uber is in a “testing phase” at present. Uber doesn’t have an identical service anywhere else in the world, though it’s close to the implementation of UberX and rival Lyft in the US.

This screenshot from local tech blog 36Kr shows People’s Uber within the Uber app:Uber-hitches-a-ride-in-China-with-new-carpooling-service

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The company’s blog explains that Uber’s new China ridesharing service is run as a not-for-profit, meaning that Uber takes no commission from the rideshare drivers – as opposed to the usual business model on UberBlack and UberX. Riders only cover the driver’s costs, though the fees are set out by the app, not by individual drivers. The post, written by Chiang, adds:

“For riders and drivers alike this means more transportation options, especially when they need it most: during rush hours, peak holiday periods, and other times when most people are on the road and many along the same routes.”

This could be a new resource for Beijing’s commuters to avoid the jam-packed subways – though Beijing’s road traffic is equally gnarly. But, in theory, more carpooling/ridesharing will lead to fewer cars on the road. Carpooling hasn’t yet taken off in China in a big way, despite the efforts of a handful of startups specializing in making money from it, such as Haha Pinche. Yesterday we reported that Haha Pinche received US$10 million in series A investment led by Sequoia Capital. Now it has a new rival.

This article originally appeared in Tech in Asia.


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