Didi Chuxing, China’s largest ride-hailing company, is hiring van drivers in two provincial capitals as part of its early push into logistics. This is the latest move into more general mobility services like home delivery and public transit.

Why it matters: Didi’s push to establish itself in the wider mobility market may drive the company’s valuation even higher, but the competition with existing players ranging from Meituan to freight service giant Manbang Group will be intense.

  • Also backed by SoftBank’s Vision Fund, Manbang has been the largest player since early 2018 when the company claimed 5.2 million out of China’s total 7 million truckers as part of its league of registered freighters.

Details: Didi on Monday started recruiting van drivers for its intra-city freight delivery pilot project in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou, and Chengdu, the capital of the southwestern Sichuan province, according to a job posting on Didi’s official account on Chinese popular instant messaging platform Wechat.

  • Didi said that an undisclosed amount of commission fee will be waived to around 600 early freighters for the first 30 days.
  • Currently only those who own vehicles, from mini pickups to moving vans, are being considered. A deposit of RMB 800 and a fee of RMB 50 for on-van marketing are required for each driver.
  • Didi has already invested RMB 100 million ($14 million) as registered capital in two cargo delivery and packaging companies each.
  • Zhao Hui, general manager of Didi’s chauffeuring business unit is the legal representative of the two companies, according to information on Chinese business research platform Tianyancha.com.
  • Two local logistics companies are responsible for hiring and training drivers on behalf of Didi, according to a Chinese media report.
  • Didi did not respond to a request for comment.

Context: Didi has been expanding its presence with a goal of becoming a “one-stop mobility platform” offering 100 million daily trips with 800 million monthly active users globally over the next three years.

  • Already China’s largest ride-hailing platform, Didi is doubling down on bike rentals, public bus services, and home delivery, seeking new growth engines in a more general mobility market.
  • The company is reportedly struggling, however, to get new users in these new businesses.
  • Chinese media last month reported couriers sometimes only drove about 20 kilometers (13 miles) for taking two orders a day on Didi platform, while they estimated a bottom line of driving 100 kilometers per day to make a living.
  • In an interview with CNBC, Didi president Jean Liu said the company currently has neither restructuring nor funding plans given “a very strong balance sheet.”

Jill Shen is Shanghai-based technology reporter. She covers Chinese mobility, autonomous vehicles, and electric cars. Connect with her via e-mail: jill.shen@technode.com or Twitter: @jill_shen_sh