Finally, Didi and UberChina merged together! On August, 1st, Didi officially announced that it was taking over UberChina in a deal that could value the combined company in China at $35 billion. For more details about the merger, you can read the article Six Things You Need To Know About UberChina and DiDi's Merger.
However, besides the heated discussion about the deal, what do Didi and Uber’s drivers think of their merger? In TMTpost Photo Gallery 034, we interviewed around ten drivers for Didi and Uber in China and invited them to share their thoughts on the deal. (Most drivers declined to use their real name, so all the names in this article are pseudonyms).
It was August, 1st. “Will there be no competition between Didi and Uber after their merger?” Feng Bo started as a Uber driver a week ago and can complete around ten orders every day, “Without competition, incentives for drivers will certainly drop. Maybe some drivers will just give up and find something else to do. But I guess this is very typical in China. After big companies give subsidies to ordinary Chinese for a short while, they will start reducing subsidy.”
It was August, 1st. Fangzi was prepared to pick up the next rider. He started as a driver for Yidao, the third largest online-hailing service (the second largest after the merger) in China. At present, he mainly pick up riders on Didi and Uber. However, he was added to Didi’s driver blacklist in July. “When Didi was just launched, they invited me to sign up on Didi with my Santana car. However, they told me now that my car didn’t meet their basic requirement,” Fangzi told TMTpost. Speaking of the merger, Fangzi thought it was understandable, saying that “In China, every business tends to end up in monopoly. After all, Uber is a foreign enterprise, so the Chinese government will show preference to Chinese companies instead of foreign ones.”
Up till this July, Mr. Zhu had become a Didi driver for half a year. According to him, one of the biggest advantage of the job was that it gave him much freedom. In terms of their merger, he cared more about what policies Didi would carry out next. “Although they merged, Didi will have the final say. I predict that Didi and Uber’s price will become similar in the future,” he told TMTpost. If Didi’s incentives towards drivers do drop in the future, he will just give up and find something else to do.
Yubo lived around South Sixth Ring in Beijing, but worked in Baishi Bridge, so he had to drive around 100 km every day to go to work and go back home. A month ago, he started picking up riders pay for the gas bill. “Uber allows me to pick up riders whose destination is on my way back home,” he explained. Although he would go back home around an hour later every day, he got to pay the gas bill. “I only pick up riders on Uber, because many friends of mine would have conflict with riders who failed to pay their bills in time on Didi. I believe Didi focuses more attention on protecting riders’ interests, while Uber prefers to protect drivers’ interests,” he told TMTpost.
“I complete more orders on Uber than Didi. More riders use Ube because for riders it’s cheaper to book a car on Uber for the same route,” Shenghuan explained to TMTpost. On hearing the news that UberChina and Didi merged, he was worried if subsidies for drivers would drop, while riders will have to pay more money for the same route. If so, many riders would be reluctant to use Uber, and there would be fewer orders on Uber. “To be fair, I can’t earn much money even in the past, so if they are going to reduce the subsidy, then what motivation do I have to continue? After all, they need to ensure that drivers can earn a decent sum of money, isn’t it?” he said.
“It’s great news for me that they finally merged because I don’t need to swift between two apps,” Xiao Feng had become a driver for online ride-hailing services for half a year. He was quite annoyed that he had to swift between two apps in order to complete more orders and make more money. “There are more drivers on Didi, but Uber‘s subsidies are higher than Didi’s, and Uber cut less money from drivers’ salary. All in all, I earn slightly less on Uber than on Didi,” he explained to TMTpost. Mr. Xiao picked up riders through online ride-hailing services every day, and he told TMTpost that Uber’s riders are generally politer and better-educated than Didi’s. “For example, we drivers always want to pick-up riders as soon as possible, but Didi’s riders are on average less patient when waiting for us compared to Uber’s. Oftentimes, Didi’s riders would cancel the order even after I arrived their pick-up spots, which waste much of my time,” he explained to TMTpost.
At the beginning of 2016, Mr. Lei tried picking up several riders on Uber, but gave up soon because he didn’t like the idea that drivers couldn’t see the destination of riders they were assigned to, and that he was afraid that he might get caught by traffic police. “I never dare to drive to places such as Beijing West Railway Station, Beijing International Airport and Beijing South Railway Station. In fact, I heard that a Didi driver was caught just yesterday. Three plainclothes traffic policemen caught him at the underground garage and fined him for over 10,000 yuan (around $1,506). Will traffic police stop finding fault with us after online ride-hailing service is legalized in China?” he was still not sure. In terms of the merger, he worried if the subsidy for drivers would drop. “If so, I’ll just quit and find something else to do,” he told TMTpost.
Binbing used to be an excavator driver. “At that time, I am supposed to repeat the same gesture in the driver room and see nobody else for the entire day,” he recalled. For him, it’s so boring a job. After starting to pick up riders through online ride-hailing services, he earned more money, had more fun and much more freedom. “I guess subsidy for both riders and drivers will drop after the merger, and drivers might have to pay tax after online ride-hailing service is legalized. If so, I will have to find something else to do,” he complained.
“After all, Didi will protect drivers’ interests. Otherwise, no drivers will be willing to pick up riders anymore,” Shao Yi, a full-time driver for online ride-hailing services, thought, “if they continue to compete, ordinary Chinese will benefit, because drivers will earn more money and riders also pay less; Yet, if they stop fighting, we will earn less, while riders will have to pay more. I guess that I have no choice but to wait for their next move and decide then,” he told TMTpost.
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[The article is published and edited with authorization from the author @flybutchery, please note source and hyperlink when reproduce.]
Translated by Levin Feng (Senior Translator at PAGE TO PAGE), working for TMTpost.