Didi Chuxing, SoftBank to Roll Out Taxi Venture in Japan
China's Didi Chuxing and SoftBank Group Corp will roll out a venture in Japan later this year to provide ride-hailing services, in a global battle to control the technology increasingly central to urban transport.
The move into Japan highlights a recent push by Didi to improve its presence in markets outside China, although it will face challenges to expand its services in a country where existing taxi companies are pushing hard against deregulation.
The two firms aim to establish the joint venture and begin trial services in Japan this year. SoftBank is an existing investor in Didi, which raised $4 billion to fund its global push in December at a valuation of more than $50 billion.
Didi has rapidly expanded overseas in the past year since closing up its dominance in China with the purchase of Uber's local unit in 2016, ending a cash-burning subsidy war that cost the U.S. firm roughly $2 billion.
The Chinese firm is, however, facing rising challenges at home, including a slower pace of growth, new rivals entering the market and drivers complaining that cut down subsidies mean they are working longer hours for the less pay.
In January Didi agreed to acquire control of Brazil's 99, in a deal valued 99 at over $1 billion and gave Didi a "significant majority" stake in the Brazilian firm.
The Chinese company is also looking to break into Mexico and is expanding its presence in regions outside the Chinese mainland, including Hong Kong and Taiwan.
Right now, Didi and SoftBank say they are exploring opportunities. The two companies expect to launch a joint venture in Japan soon with plans to start pilot programs in Osaka, Kyoto, Fukuoka, Tokyo and other locations this year.
“Didi and SoftBank will diligently study local market conditions and policies, and will actively engage with industry practitioners, policymakers and other stakeholders, with the aim of building an open and inclusive platform that will be available to all of Japan’s taxi operators,” the Chinese firm said in an announcement.
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