Taxi app Uber has set its sights beyond the roads of China with a push into the air and on water as the US company adds helicopters and boats to its ride-hailing services.
The company will on Friday unveil UberChopper, a sightseeing helicopter ride above Shanghai that will cost Rmb2,999 ($484), including transport in a Mercedes-Benz to and from the helipad.
The event is a one-day promotion designed to “raise awareness” of Uber, and gauge interest in airborne services. “Depending on market demand and user interest, we will further explore potential for air travel as a possibility,” the company said, as it introduces a service already used in other countries including the US, India, Brazil and South Africa.
The company has also rolled out a boat-hailing service in the southern city of Hangzhou’s scenic West Lake in the past month as well as a trial rickshaw-hailing service in downtown Beijing.
Uber is a relative latecomer to the Chinese market and faces competition from local players Didi Dache and Kuaidi Dache, which have sewn up the lower end of the market. The pair announced a merger in March, creating a Goliath in the Chinese car-hailing industry.
A study by Beijing-based Enfodesk, an internet consultancy, late last year put Kuaidi’s share of the taxi app market at 56.5 per cent and Didi’s at 43.3 per cent — leaving 0.2 per cent for “other” participants.
However, Uber said it was more competitive in the high-end of the market — via its UberBlack service, which features Audis and other luxury cars — while also offering a bargain basement “People’s Uber” service.
Read more at Financial Times.