In the two weeks since Chinese authorities announced a major easing of COVID-19 control measures, a decrease in both supply and demand for urban vehicular transportation has caused order volumes on several leading domestic ride-hailing platforms to fall sharply.
Since the start of December, among the four leading Chinese ride-hailing platforms, Didi has recorded average daily orders of about 12.5 million, Huaxiaozhu has had about 1.4 million, AutoNavi has had about 4.5 million, and T3 Mobility has had 1.5 million, according to a report by LatePost Finance on December 20. Compared with a summer peak in August, the order volumes of these platforms have all declined by about 30%.
According to data from China’s Ministry of Transport, the country’s ride-hailing supervision information system received information on 508 million orders in November, down 11.4% from the previous month. By contrast, in November of last year, online ride-hailing orders exceeded 600 million.
Fewer people are taking rides on such platforms, but the number of service cars and drivers is increasing. Compared with last year, the number of ride-hailing driver licenses issued by Chinese authorities increased from 3.864 million to 5.01 million, while the number of vehicle transport licenses increased from 1.499 million to 2.064 million.
Affected by the market downturn, Didi and T3 Mobility both implemented minor layoffs in the fourth quarter. AutoNavi’s self-operated car-hailing business “Rocket Travel” went online after obtaining an operation license in Beijing in November, and its promotional progress has also slowed down.
One Didi insider told LatePost Finance that the pandemic situation in many places across the country is now rapidly deteriorating, and a shortage in capacity is expected to last until after the Spring Festival in late January. The recovery of the market may not come until around the next Labor Day on May 1 or the summer vacation in the third quarter of 2023.
At the beginning of this month, both Didi and T3 Mobility held strategy meetings to review and set goals for the next year. According to sources close to the companies cited in the report, the target of T3 Mobility in 2023 is 3 million orders per day, which was also the target of T3 for this year – a goal that has not been achieved.
Didi’s ride-hailing, taxi, intra-city and long-distance businesses failed to achieve their goals in 2022, but the management is conveying confidence for next year. Will Cheng, CEO of Didi, told participants of the strategy event that outcomes next year are expected to be favorable, and the company will make profits and growth. “Next year is expected to be good,” said the source, “because this year’s situation is really bad.”