Didi Chuxing (DiDi), one of the world’s leading mobile transportation and local services platform, unveiled D1, the world’s first electric vehicle custom-built for ride-hailing. Co-developed with Chinese EV manufacturer BYD, the D1 cars will start rolling out to DiDi’s leasing partners in major Chinese cities in the coming months.
China is the world’s largest and hence one of the most under-supplied transportation markets. Shared mobility accounts for less than 3% of the total addressable mobility needs, and DiDi aims to raise the penetration rate to 8% by 2022.
Cheng Wei, founder and CEO of DiDi, shared his vision for DiDi’s mobility blueprint for the next 10 years. He said: “Shared intelligent mobility is the optimum solution for the future of transportation. With the continued development of autonomous driving and AI technology, people will be able to enjoy a better travel experience through shared mobility.”
D1 is DiDi’s first step to build customized ride-hailing vehicles by leveraging its expertise and data insights from its user base of over 550 million registered passengers and 31 million drivers. To ensure a reliable and more cost-effective supply for its drivers’ network that today delivers as many as 60 million trips per day, DiDi China has been building a deeper automotive ecosystem for its core mobility service by establishing an extensive alliance with manufacturers, energy providers and other industry players in the value chain.
Jean Liu, President of DiDi, added: “During the process of countless product upgrades, we realized that we were not satisfied with the progress we made on improving user experience. Therefore, we decided to focus our efforts on the vehicle itself. As an industry first, DiDi has integrated the needs of hundreds of millions of users into the design of D1 by leveraging our data analytics and user feedback. Our product design team analyzed almost 10 million advice and feedback, alongside survey results from over 10,000 drivers and passengers, as well as tens of workshops. There are many impressive stories to tell.”
DiDi’s auto alliance, pivoted on DiDi’s Xiaoju Automobile Solutions, includes members such as BYD, FAW, BAIC, GAW, Toyota, Volkswagen, Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi, and other leading carmakers. Forms of collaboration range from trading and leasing, operation of fleets, maintenance and service, to energy supply and co-design of vehicles.
DiDi delivers over 10 billion trips per year. Its OEM partnerships have had a major impact on China’s new energy vehicle landscape. Today, about 1 million EVs run on DiDi’s platform, making it the world’s largest shared EV network, and DiDi trips account for about 1/5 of all EV mileage in China. DiDi and non-DiDi EV owners enjoy better recharge deals and services at over 20,000 charging points in 60 tier-1 and tier-2 cities, benefiting from our partnerships with leading energy providers, including China’s State Grid, the Southern Power Grid and BP. In 2019, one in five Chinese EV owners used DiDi’s recharging service.
Compared to traditional car models designed for owner-drivers, D1 builds its main differentiating advantages on extra safety, operational efficiency and passenger/driver experience.
Jesse Yang Jun, Vice President of DiDi, introduced D1 as a data driven car and elaborated: “D1 is a ground-breaking vehicle that enables data connection between auto makers and ride-hailing platform. Powered by data, D1 is defined by usage scenario and is a purpose-built vehicle for both drivers and riders.”
Fu Qiang, CEO of DiDi’s Ride-Hailing Platform Company, revealed that D1 will be launched under a pilot program in Changsha in December before gradually introduced to other cities to serve more passengers across the country.
For a compact car, D1 comes with a L2 Assisted Driving system with above-the-grade manufacturer safety set-ups, including Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB), Lane Departure Warning (LDW) and Pedestrian Collision Warning (PCW).
These features are combined with DiDi’s ride-hailing safety innovations, including a complete Driver Monitoring System (DMS), a steering wheel with safety alerts and response functions, and an AI voice and video monitoring and analysis system that uses DiDi’s facial and object recognition technology. The DiDi Mobility Safety System, developed between 2018 and 2020 when the company invested over RMB 5 billion in a safety revamp, has been operationally tested on hundreds of thousands of DiDi cars.
Dubbed the “DiDi Smart Driver”, D1 carries an all-in-one driver assistance system that interacts with the human driver through a dashboard pad, an on-board voice assistant and the smart steering wheel. The Smart Driver integrates the full ride-hailing service flow from driver verification, pickup and drop-off, to payment and customer service. Its energy management function offers real-time recharging and maintenance support. At 12.8 kwh/100 km, D1 has the highest energy efficiency level among its peers.
The Smart Driver is linked with a fleet management system that helps larger operators track and optimize operational status. DiDi works with over 3,000 leasing and fleet partners to secure quality drivers and provide leased cars, energy services and financial/insurance support to them.
The color-coded lights and sliding-door designs facilitate fast and safe pickup and drop-off. Inside, this compact vehicle offers passengers extra space and greater control of in-vehicle environmental and infotainment settings. Additional adaptations for drivers include ergonomic seat design for extended city driving and a friendlier driver’s space set-up.