“The importance of [offline] operations can never be overstated” states DiDi, China's VTC giant
Just like other firms of its field, Didi Chuxing, a transportation company with over 550 millions of users scattered over the globe, has had to face the crisis. As soon as the pandemic started in China, DiDi set up a series of substantive measures aiming to protect its drivers and users, support the broader communities and help its partners.
As it diversifies its service offerings and helps cities recover by continuously providing safe, reliable rides to meet basic mobility needs, DiDi was able to overcome the challenges it was facing and adapt itself in this time of crisis. Kevin Chen, Executive President of DiDi’s ride-hailing business, talked about the decisions that were made and the lessons that were learned by the company.
[After Wuhan began the lock-down in late January] The toughest period lasted for 2 or 3 weeks. Throughout these hectic days, we managed to focus on our work, got the fleet set up and ready to help the medical workers and communities. I do think during those times it was very worthwhile to act very strongly and to put in all those efforts in the very beginning.
Technology platforms and data technologies have proven themselves to be useful in terms of helping the health authorities fight this virus. For example, ride-hailing itself is fully traceable for safety purposes. It is inevitable that during such times, there will be people who are positive with the virus out there, and the ability to track [ for health purposes] is very important for keeping people safe and for containing the problem.
One thing that we learned over the past few months is that though we were widely perceived as a technology company, this pandemic proved that the importance of offline operations can never be overstated. There are things that we need to do offline, that we have to do physically, such as installing in-vehicle protective plastic shields and launching disinfection stations to protect and support the drivers and passengers.
We need to continue to strengthen our partnerships with the entire ecosystem of transportation, including auto OEMs, leasing companies and insurance companies, etc. Because such a pandemic not only affects people’s health, but also the entire economy. That’s why we’ve been working closely with upstream and downstream partners to help with the situation.
This has changed some of the relationships between us and our cities and communities. We need to build a smart transportation network together, hand in hand.
- Kevin Chen, Executive President (DiDi Chuxing)