It has been 325 days since Didi’s Hitch service was suspended. On July 18, DiDi held a press conference, focusing on issues concerning its Hitch business, which answers some of the media’s questions that have been haunting the company.
Ever since the murder case in China’s southern city of Yueqing on August 26, 2018, the Hitch function on the app has been terminated. The company expressed their deep apologies and promised to review the business model and upgrade their entire customer service system to avoid such tragedies in the future.
These past 325 days have been tough for Liu Qing, president of DiDi. She told the media that she has been under intense pressure from all parts of society, and that she once burst out crying in the office with Cheng Wei, CEO of the company.
“In terms of when the Hitch service will be back online, I’m not sure.” Zhang Rui, the leader of Didi’s Hitch department said.
According to the official press release, the company will make sure the new design of the Hitch product reflects the peer-to-peer (P2P) ride sharing industry’s highest standards and meets the public’s expectations before proceeding with a relaunch. At the moment, they still don’t have ax expected time of the relaunch.
According to Zhang, during over 300 hundred days of safety rectification since the murder in Yueqing, DiDi Hitch has gone through 12 systematic upgrades, optimizing 226 functions, including over 100 safety functions and the protocols of four major sections including access threshold, pre-trip prevention, in-trip protection, and post-trip treatment.
It is also worth noting that a proposed set of features will be added to enhance safety for female passengers and drivers on Hitch.
- A Safety Assistant for women users which provides them with more information on their fellow passengers and the driver, including driving history, car condition, last verification time, etc.
- Enhanced verification procedures for long-distance trips.
- Enhanced safety reminders for passengers and drivers to utilize Share Status and other in-trip safety features.
- An Alert & Intervention mechanism when algorithms detect abnormal route deviation or a long-time stop.
According to Sina Tech, insiders say that there has been internal discussions on whether to reinitiate the service in April of this year. “However, executives think it’s all a bit rushed. Considering the blurred attitudes from the regulatory departments, they had to give up.” For now, the DiDi Hitch team will continue to report to Liu Qing and Cheng Wei directly every two weeks.
To most commuters, the Hitch service has its advantages including abundant vehicle resources and affordable pricing. However, the legal loopholes and potential security threats are still obstacles in getting approval from regulatory units.