Beijing-based ride hailing firm DiDi has launched in Osaka, Japan to tap into the country’s huge taxi market
DiDi hopes to appeal to locals seeking cheaper fares and tourists seeking familiarity, and has modified its app to ensure DiDi users from other countries can use the app in Japan without any additional downloads or changes to their settings.
According to TechCrunch, Japan holds “the world’s third largest taxi market based on revenue ($13 billion GMV), and it has some 240,000 licensed vehicles”.
Japan has strict ridesharing laws which prevent private drivers from providing paid transport, meaning that DiDi will stick to licensed cabs for its service.
Uber, famed for its ridesharing model, currently operates in Tokyo as a ride hailing and food delivery service, and attempted a 2015 ridesharing launch in Fukuoka before the Japanese government ruled the endeavour to be illegal.
The world’s most valuable startup has not given up on Japan, however, and is currently working to expand its ride hailing business beyond Tokyo.
JapanTaxi dominates the market, with 60,000 cars operating in 47 prefectures.
DiDi, valued at US$56bn, will operate in areas in and near Osaka, including the Kansai International Airport.
Backed by SoftBank, the firm intends to grow beyond Osaka and the surrounding areas to major cities including Fukuoka, Kyoto, and Tokyo, TechCrunch said.