Geely’s ride-hailing app Caocao offers free lifts in Wuhan

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A Caocao Mobility driver wearing a protective garment in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei in central China. (Image credit: Geely)

Caocao Mobility, the ride-hailing unit of Chinese automaker Geely, has offered transport services free of charge to residents and medical workers in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in response to Beijing’s call for companies to join the fight against the spread of the new coronavirus.

Why it matters: Caocao‘s service is expected to help solve residents needs, including helping the ill and medical staff shop for basics, see doctors, and commute.

  • Wuhan’s local government banned non-essential motor vehicles from roads in the downtown areas in Wuhan on Jan. 26, trapping its 11 million residents in their homes after China locked the city down in late January.

Details: Chinese automaker Geely on Friday said that its ride-hailing service Caocao had established a special fleet equipped with more than 100 vehicles and 300 drivers to provide free mobility services for residents and medical workers in Wuhan.

  • The fleet provides 24-hour service guided by a special dispatch team formed by local authorities, including transport for non-coronavirus related medical emergencies, as well as deliveries of food and medicine for residents in dozens of communities.
  • Caocao’s fleet was part of the local government’s larger initiative recruiting a fleet of 6,000 vehicles to help citizens get around the city while preventing the spread of the virus, according to a report from Xinhua News Agency.
  • The company said that the participation in the fleet was “completely voluntary” as many local drivers sought to “do their part” in defense of the home city.
  • All the drivers were equipped with protective clothing, face masks, and disinfectant, the company said in an announcement. All of the vehicles are disinfected on a daily basis.

Context: Caocao is not the only company using the outbreak to burnish its image.

  • Chinese biggest ride-hailing platform Didi Chuxing said in late January that it had set up an emergency fleet in which a total of 1,336 drivers were involved to serve Wuhan residents, immediately after the launch of the government initiative.
  • Both Didi and Caocao shareholder Geely each announced separate funds of RMB 200 million ($28.38 million) to be put toward curbing the spread of the virus.
  • China’s central government has subsidized virus-related workers with a daily allowance of RMB 200 per head, according to an announcement jointly released by the Ministry of Finance and the National Health Commission on Jan. 25.