The Japanese government is planning to relax regulations in the taxi industry and the new entrants are positioning themselves to capitalize from such a move.
Didi Mobility, the joint venture between Softbank Corp. and Didi Chuxing, the car sharing giant of China, recently announced that it will be expanding its taxi-hailing service to 13 cities in Japan that will include Tokyo and Kyoto.
According to reliable sources Didi Mobility started its services in Osaka in September 2018 and will now be expanding its artificial intelligence technology powered services immediately to Tokyo and Kyoto. Eventually the services will be expanded to 10 other cities of Japan by March 2020 which will include Fukuoka, Hyogo and Hokkaido prefectures.
Didi Mobility is reportedly targeting the younger generation and a growing number of Chinese tourists in Japan to expand its business in the country. Rivals of Didi Mobility in Japan include the U.S. ride-sharing giant Uber Technologies and a Sony Corp. venture.
An estimated 230,000 taxis are operational in Japan and the country prohibits transportation services that match drivers of personal vehicles with people due to the presence of such a strong taxi industry and its opposition to such services. Such services are only allowed in areas with no public transportation or depopulated areas. Residents who live in depopulated areas typically use taxi services managed by local governments and nonprofit organizations.
The Japanese government is however planning to relax regulations in the industry and the new entrants are positioning themselves to capitalize from such a move. The government also plans to allow customers to share taxis with strangers.
Keigo Sugano, Senior Vice President, Didi Mobility has been reported by a press conference to say that the company hopes to raise the operating rate of taxis from the current national average of 40% to approximately 60% with the use of AI technology that will be used to effectively match passengers and taxis.
Riders can pay through apps such as PayPay digital money service. Users availing Chinese version of the DiDi smartphone app can use WeChat Pay or Alipay methods.