Luxury automaker BMW is planning to launch a ride-hailing service in China this December, which would make the German company the first foreign carmaker to nab a license in the country, Reuters reports.
China’s ride-hailing market is currently dominated by DiDi Chuxing, which bought Uber’s Chinese business in 2016 and announced a $1 billion investment into its auto services in early August.
But even though a May report from Bain & Co. found that 90% of all Chinese ride-hailing trips go to DidiChuxing, the consulting company noted that there was room for competition. Especially if new players partner with popular social commerce platforms (like WeChat, Dianping, and Alipay), from which 50% of users already order their rides.
Didi Chuxing also faced severe backlash after a driver allegedly murdered a female passenger on Aug. 24 while she was using the company’s carpooling app, Hitch. This was the second female rider to be murdered using Hitch in three months—leading to Didi Chuxing to suspend Hitch, fire two executives, and re-evaluate how it responds to complaints.
BMW told Reuters that it upped its stake in a Chinese joint venture with partner Brilliance China Automotive Holdings Ltd from 50% to 75% in October, also increasing its stake to get a slice of the country’s $23 billion ride-hailing market.