DiDi goes to Japan
The Japanese taxi market and its powerful lobby maintain a tight grip on the development of ride-hailing. The traditional regulatory argumentation (variable pricing, insurance issues, untrained drivers) supports the lobby; so far, no Grab, Uber or DiDi ride-hailing services are available on Japanese territory.
This doesn’t mean that the industry is staying away from Japan’s lucrative transport sector. Japanese companies, such as Toyota, Sony and Softbank have been investing massively in overseas ride-hailing businesses and have at least some kind of plan to work with taxi companies in Japan.
Uber has, in 2018, launched a taxi booking application; a work-around strategy to have at least a foot on the ground in key cities. Also, Uber Black can be booked in Japan, be it at exactly the same pricing as the normal taxis.
The new kid in town
DiDi and local tech giant SoftBank have now decided to join forces and create a similar taxi-hailing product. This comes after a six month trial in Osaka, where the DiDi dispatch service has been a huge success: the business has achieved 60% monthly growth and was awarded the taxi-booking app with the highest user satisfaction.
DiDi Japan (the name of the DiDi Chuxing and SoftBank’s joint venture) will now start targeting other major cities in Japan, starting with Tokyo. This will happen with a set of marketing tools that are unheard of in the Japanese taxi market: booking fee waivers, loyalty programs and the availability of DiDi booking on Google Maps and Yahoo! Transit. A surprising innovation in a very traditional market.
Japan has been working hard to promote local tourism and the Chinese tourists love the Japanese quirkiness. DiDi Japan allows them to continue using their native DiDi app when traveling around Japan and communicate via a real-time Japanese/Chinese message translator and a 24/7 Chinese speaking customer support. As new cities will be added to the application, it is expected that Chinese tourists will feel more comfortable venturing outside of Japan’s traditional destinations, such as Tokyo and Kyoto.