(Yicai Global) Jan. 25 -- Online taxi startup Hello Chuxing, formerly Hello Bike, is trialing car-hailing services in Shanghai, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Chengdu, Hefei and Dongguan.
The bike-sharer's move to four wheels from two is well-timed as its market-leading rival Didi Chuxing's Hitch service finds itself hobbled by a government-imposed shutdown during this year's peak Chinese travel season.
Shanghai-based Hello Chuxing, is backed by Alibaba Group Holding. Officially known as Junzheng Network Technology, it started driver recruitment in Shanghai and Chengdu on Dec. 26 and Dec. 27 and has now begun hiring in 120 cities nationwide.
Its registered drivers now number more than 1 million, the company said on its account on the popular WeChat messaging app of tech titan Tencent Holdings.
The company has formulated a series of security rules and technical settings for the new business, it said. Its model lacks any interactive social functions and riders contact drivers via virtual numbers. It has established a multiple driver review system and a 24/7 customer service.
The firm is also providing free personal accident and accident medical insurance to both operators and passengers.
It has also set up multiple mechanisms to ensure personal safety, including a panic button to report to police, a green channel to cooperate with law enforcement and an emergency contacts function.
It will also introduce a campaign called 'ride-hailing during Spring Festival travel' from today to Feb. 4 to ease the pressure of the yearly migration -- the world's greatest annual human mass-movement known in Chinese as 'Chunyun.'
Didi Hitch will be unable to operate for this year's Spring Festival since it is undergoing a safety overhaul. The service has been revamped since August after the murder of a second woman rider by a Hitch driver in four months.
The service conveyed 30.7 million passengers during last year's Spring Festival, which is equal to the transport volume of 170,000 Boeing 737s, the firm's own data show.
Editor: Ben Armour