DiDi Chuxing (DiDi) is the world’s leader in transportation with 10 billion trips per year – twice the number of flights made by all airlines combined – and 450 million active users across the world, according to the company. DiDi landed in Mexico in 2018 and after two years, the company is already present in 34 cities. Unprecedented market conditions brought by COVID-19 have tested DiDi’s ability to adapt to lockdown conditions in Mexico. Juan Andrés Panamá, Director of Ridesharing Operations at DiDi México details the company’s initiatives to cope with the ongoing pandemic.
"We have seen that rides have dropped in some cities between 40 to 50 percent. Definitely this has an impact on margins. However, at this time, our vision is to support the community. We have invested in different initiatives that help the community reduce contagion while keeping partner drivers safe,” said Panamá in an interview with Mexico Business News.
Recently, DiDi México launched the DiDi Hero initiative, through which the company invested MX$42 million (US$1.77 million) to support health staff in battling COVID-19. “Given the raising concerns about the transportation of nurses, doctors and medical staff, we saw an opportunity to support the community.” According to Panamá, all registered medical professionals will have access to two benefits: two daily rides up to MX$75 (US$3.15), as well as three meals up to MX$95 (US$3.99) per week through DiDi Food. “This is just a small contribution to the great labor they are providing in being the first line of defense,” he adds. As for partner drivers, they can participate in DiDi Hero voluntarily and they will receive payment for those trips in full.
At this time, our vision is to support the community"
- Juan Andrés Panamá, DiDi México
DiDi México has its own food-delivering service, DiDi Food. The segment, although experiencing increasing demand in other parts of the world during the lockdown, has not seen a major change in demand as of early April in Mexico. “We have seen a steady demand. Many restaurants remain open for food delivery only and we are supporting local businesses by prioritizing them on the app,” says Panamá. In addition, DiDi Food has quickly adopted additional health measures in its service. “We have trained our roundsmen in health prevention measures and we have provided them with facemasks and antibacterial gel, following WHO’s recommendations,” says Panamá.
Considering the drop in demand, with DiDi Hero the company expects to inject half a million rides in the market to support drivers. Those trips will not generate any charge from DiDi, which means drivers will receive the payment in full. “We are supporting our partner drivers in different ways. We have a primary focus on full-time drivers, the ones who need DiDi the most, to provide them with incentives to increase their income. For our drivers that are 65 years old or older, we offered a fixed income of 75 percent of their profit over the past 28 days so they can stay at home. The other 25 percent is what they usually destine to gasoline and maintenance,” says Panamá.
Learning from its experience in China, DiDi has also put together a US$10 million fund to support drivers that get infected or quarantined by COVID-19. The program includes payment of between 14 and 28 days to support the driver if they or any member of their family gets infected. “We are also working on stopping the spread of COVID-19 by delivering vehicle hygiene kits, including plastic protection that helps to divide the front part of the vehicle from the back seats, as well as liquid viricides to disinfect all surfaces that drivers or passengers normally touch,” says Panamá.