As the ride-hailing market in China heats up again, Alibaba-owned AutoNavi (高德地图) also known as Amap has announced that its ride-hailing service Gaode Jiaoche (高德叫车) has gone online, TechNode’s Chinese sister site reports.

The move is just another small step for AutoNavi towards building its one-stop mobility aggregation platform. The ride-hailing service is integrated into AutoNavi’s platform Gaode Yixing (高德易行平台) along with other mobility options. The platform was launched in July 2017 and includes ride-hailing services from Didi, Shenzhou (神州专车), Shouqi (首汽约车), and Caocao (曹操专车). The platform also connects with China’s biggest bike rental companies ofo and Mobike as well as Alibaba’s travel and booking platform Fliggy (飞猪旅行), and other mobility services.

In March this year, the company launched a carpooling option presenting it as a public service aimed at reducing traffic. The company said it will not collect commissions from its drivers, allowing them to earn the full amount a passenger pays for the trip and promised not to subsidize the service.

The reason behind this move is data. Alibaba and AutoNavi have recently launched its City Brain platform which leverages AutoNavi’s abundant transport data and Alibaba Cloud’s cloud computing technologies to improve public transport systems.

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Many believe that the additional data could provide Alibaba with the edge to succeed in the race to develop the autonomous vehicles. The tech giant has been testing driverless cars since last year along with its rivals Baidu and Tencent. In addition, the ride-hailing service is likely to become another way for Alibaba’s payment service Alipay to expand.

Alibaba bought digital map and navigation solutions provider AutoNavi back in 2014 in a deal worth $1.5 billion. The purchase was meant to improve Alibaba’s data collecting abilities. In 2015, AutoNavi announced the launch of LBS+, a platform that provides location-based service solutions to businesses in car rental, O2O, and smart devices. Its partnership with Didi (in which Alibaba also holds a small stake) started long ago in 2013.

Alibaba is not the only one looking at improving its strengths in mobility and challenging Didi’s position. Meituan Dianping launched its ride-hailing service in February this year and bought bike rental company Mobike in April. According to Meituan’s CEO Wang Xing, expansion into mobility as just another way to serve its users. In April, travel platform Ctrip also announced it will be launching a ride-hailing service.

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Masha Borak

Masha Borak is a technology reporter based in Beijing. Write to her at masha.borak [at] Pitches with the word "disruptive" will be ignored. Read a good book - learn some more adjectives.

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