Not so long ago, Uber said it was losing $1 billion in China. But now, it seems that the transportation giant’s fortunes have changed — and significantly at that. According to Zhen Liu, SVP of Strategy at Uber China, the car service will not only catch up to, but beat dominant rival Didi within the next year. “Last year, we were only operating in eight cities and we were [at] about one percent marketshare, Liu said in an interview at Converge in Hong Kong. “A year later, we are about one-third of the marketshare and operating in over sixty cities across China.”
This is a bold claim given Didi’s impressive hold on the Chinese market today. Uber’s chief competitor claims 87 percent of the market in private car services and nearly 100 percent when it comes to taxis, says Jean Liu, Didi’s president. When speaking with CNBC’s “Squawk Alley” at the Code Conference on Friday, Liu took a jab at Uber, calling the company’s strategies “cute.”
“I find it quite cute because I’ve never seen a company put their competitor’s brand on their own homepage,” she said, referencing the fact that when you open the Chinese version of the Uber app, you’re confronted with an advertisement alleging that prices are 30 percent lower than Didi’s.
“This is a very strong proof to show that we have better service, and I’d like to see this more often,” she added.
While it’s tough to say who will ultimately win in this epic battle of the ride-sharing services, the tension certainly highlights China’s importance as a still-growing market. Didi’s Senior Director for International Strategy, Li Zijian, noted that conjecture at this point is a bit useless.
“There’s lot of competition in the ride-sharing market, that’s true [but] what we are really doing is to focus on what’s in front of us,” Li said. “It’s like running a hurdles race, if you want to win a hurdles race the only thing you need to focus on is what’s in front of you. You don’t really look over your shoulder to see what other athletes are doing.”