Alibaba, Tencent-backed ride-hailing app T3 Chuxing goes live in China

Traffic travels along the Second Ring Road in Beijing, China, on Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2015. Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg

A new competitor in the ride-hailing market has emerged to challenge the pole position held by long-time player Didi Chuxing – T3 Chuxing.

T3 Chuxing was unveiled by its operator Nanjing Lingxing Technology Company Limited in Nanjing on Monday, according to a statement by the startup. Its mobile app went online on July 17 and started to operate in the city one day later on a trial basis.

Innovation and competition in the mobile mobility sector will continue to flourish, and the “long-distance race” had just begun, said T3 CEO Chui Dayong.

The new ride-hailing startup is backed by Chinese tech giants Alibaba and Tencent, retail major Suning, as well as three Chinese automakers – Shenzhen-listed Chongqing Changan Automobiles, Hong Kong-listed Dongfeng Motor Group and State-owned China FAW Group.

This March, the informal consortium or alliance, together with several other limited partners, had formed a 9.76 billion yuan ($1.45 billion) fund called Nanjing Lingxing Equity Investment to invest in mobility startups, according to a report by TechCrunch.

T3 plans to run a fleet of 20,000 vehicles and expand its services to another five cities this year in China, which are Chongqing, Wuhan, Guangzhou, Hangzhou and Tianjin, said a 36Kr report. Its model is slightly different from Didi Chuxing as its drivers will be provided with a fleet of standardised new energy vehicles, similar to a new rival in the market which was launched in June – Ru Qi Chu Xing.

Ru Qi Chu Xing, or OnTime, is backed by Tencent and was born out of a partnership between Guangzhou Automobile Group (GAC), Guangzhou Public Transport, and Didi Chuxing. It kicked off its services in Guangzhou last month and plans to enter five more cities within a year with a fleet of nearly 10,000 new energy vehicles provided and owned by GAC.

Didi Chuxing has been the longest and biggest player in China’s ride-hailing market and has gone through several mergers to maintain its market share as the largest player.

It is also an investor in other ride-hailing companies such as Lyft, Ola, Uber, 99, Bolt (Taxify) and Careem as well as Southeast Asia-based Grab.

US and China-based venture capital firm GGV Capital managing partner Jenny Lee and an investor in Didi Chuxing had said it is unlikely to be an end battle where the market will only have one player standing.

“We’ve seen this played out in China where Didi merged with Kuaidi – we thought that was it and there will be only one player in China that will do ride-sharing but then Uber came along. So after $2 billion spent to subsidise consumers and drivers in China, it became one player again [when Didi acquired Uber China]. But then you see Baidu is getting into the mix and Meituan, which does food delivery, also wants to do car-sharing.

“I think that that number one position will always be up for competition. It may be a matter of one player having 60 per cent of the market, another player having 40 per cent. I think that’s how we see this battle growing,” she said.