Meituan’s ambition to reignite the ride-hailing war is getting serious. The Chinese O2O and e-commerce giant is rumored to launch on-demand car service in seven cities on 16 March, Chinese media TechWeb is reporting (in Chinese). Major cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Hangzhou, Wenzhou, Fuzhou and Xiamen are included in the list.
After launching ride-hailing service in Nanjing last year, the company announced plans to enter more cities like Beijing and Shanghai. Shortly after its announcement, however, the company was beset with setbacks for its legal status in running ride-hailing services in these cities, where separate permits from different local municipalities are needed.
Meituan Dache announced that it would roll out in Beijing on January 12, but order from Beijing authorities has forced the firm to postpone its launch. The company announced in January that it has obtained local permission in Nanjing and Shanghai.
A company spokesperson denied the rumor without giving any details.
Even though there are still uncertainties, Meituan has been successful in piling up anticipations for the new feature. Last December, the firm has rolled out a registration page where users can vote for their cities. At the time, Meituan said they would launch the service once a city gets 200k votes.
On top of that, Meituan also leveraged subsidies, the most effective way to secure users in a field where Didi Chuxing dominates. Under its rule, the first 200k passenger registers can get ride coupons and first the 50k (Beijing) or 20k (Shanghai) drivers can enjoy commission free service.
Chinese upstart tech firms may boom from a certain vertical, but there’s a general trend for them expand into an all-inclusive platform. This trend inevitably results in business overlap between major companies, especially in red-hot verticals like ride-hailing. Similarly, Didi is reportedly working toward the launch of a food delivery service—one of Meituan’s core businesses.