Starting Wednesday Uber drivers working in Chengdu, China will be greeted by the company’s brand new feature that would allow them to take rides even as they commute into town.
The place has not been selected by chance, since it’s the car-booking company’s busiest market. The new feature has been named uberCOMMUTE, with the service undergoing beta testing in the metropolitan area of 14 million inhabitants before being scaled on a global base, according to a statement by the San Francisco-based company. Normally, the driver will get passengers asking for a ride through the company’s smartphone car-hailing app but the new feature would allow the drivers to also have people riding when they head into town. This is the first time for Uber it first introduces a global service outside of its home market and shows Uber’s desire to expand into China – representing the company’s largest opportunity and challenge at the same time.
The government is mulling new regulation that would have such businesses using commercially registered cars and drivers, a major challenge to their current business model that has drivers of privately owned cars matched with rides. At the same time, Uber has to fend off stiff competition from the largest local provider – Didi Kuaidi – and all of the ride-hailing companies seek to win the favor of regulators by demonstrating they can help curb traffic congestion as they face stiff opposition from the taxi and limousine industry.