China to Take Lead in Technology Innovations in EV, Ride-Sharing, Sustainable Cities, Says CEO of Ride-Hailing Giant Didi Chuxing at UN Forum

Date: 2017-11-02   Source: Yicai Global

(Yicai Global) Nov. 2 -- Cars will no longer spend 95 percent of the time sitting in garages and we will not have to own cars any more, said Cheng Wei, founder and CEO of China’s car-hailing leader Didi Chuxing, as “one of the biggest revolutions happening in front of our eyes. The three internets are coming together: the internet of information, the internet of energy, and the internet of transportation.”

Their meeting point is new energy vehicles (EV), said Cheng in a speech to the United Nations (UN) GEIDCO Global Energy Interconnection Forum, held in Beijing on Sept. 26, stressing that big innovations in this area will come from emerging markets, China, in particular.

“In our industry, worldwide, two out of three rides take place in China. Every day, we see new innovations coming from China in our field: from new carpool technology, to bike-sharing, to AI traffic lights and so on,” he pointed out.

Didi employs 21 million drivers to deliver 25 million rides in more than 400 cities across China every day through its app, Cheng disclosed, saying every ride Didi takes “brings us closer to the UN 2030 goals: decent work, economic growth and sustainable cities.”

Organized by Global Energy Interconnection and Development and Cooperation Organization (GEIDCO), the Global Energy Interconnection (GEI) Forum aims to develop and utilize global clean energy and further promote energy sustainability worldwide. To assist in realizing the UN Sustainable Development Goals, GEIDCO has been working with its members and partners on concept promotion, technology innovation, research and planning, as well as projects cooperation in the energy sector, it says on its website.

Noting that “our energy model has not kept up with industrial revolutions,” Cheng said there lies an opportunity before the humanity now, in a reference to the “advance of new energy and new transmission technology” to build “global internet of energy.” This network may link up large new-energy generators around the world. We may share power online, at lower cost, and lower carbon emission. Such a change will connect and change the world, like the internet today, he stressed. Furthermore, energy interconnection will bring new, more sustainable industrial and commercial systems, a vision Didi shares with GEIDCO, said founder of China’s most successful car-hailing firm.

He stressed that for the first time in history, a revolution is happening in the global ‘internet’ of transportation. “Information technology is yet to change the world of transportation. We are yet to connect people, cars, and roads online,” said Cheng in his address to the forum.

Our energy model has not kept up with industrial revolutions. Like hundreds of years ago, we dig out fossil fuel from land or sea. We send petrol and coal to power plants. The process creates growth; but it also produces pollution, and is very inefficient, he noted.

“At DiDi, we work day and night to change this, by connecting all modes of mobility, by creating a world-leading online transportation platform, by raising our cities’ efficiency with the power of AI. In five years, we brought online taxis, private cars, carpools, bikes, and even buses, for hundreds and millions of passengers.

“We see such a future: thanks to mobile and AI technology, we won’t have to own cars. Cars will be shared; they will no longer spend 95 percent of the time sitting in the garage. Cities will no longer give up green space to park these cars,” he pointed out.

Talking about the state of electric vehicles (EV), Cheng referred to the situation in China. “We all believe the future of transport is new energy vehicles; but we have a long way to go. China has 150 million vehicles. Only one million use new energy. But that is less than 1 percent. And it is costly for families to own EVs or build their own charging points.”

The ride-sharing firm’s founder offered his solution to this problem, saying that in rideshare networks, EV’s are much more economical than gas cars.

“Rideshare will be a key link in promoting new energy on the road. On efficient rideshare networks, EVs are much more economical than gas cars. Over 20 million vehicles run on DiDi, 260 thousand are EVs.”

As a young technology company which started business only five years ago, Didi Chuxing, formerly Didi Kuadi, plans to put over 1 million EVs onto it network before 2020, Cheng outlined. It also contemplates building its own EV charging systems.

In this field, too, emerging markets are becoming new centers of global innovation, he pointed out, saying China will take the lead in EVs and ride-sharing.