Didi D1, a Chinese EV for ride-sharing
The Chinese vehicle and battery manufacturer BYD and Didi Chuxing (Asia’s Uber) have unveiled an electric car for the express purpose of ride-hailing. Design-wise, the two partners have obviously been inspired by the VW ID.3, but the technology shows ingenuity.
The D1 is technically very interesting, and it will potentially serve a huge market. Shared mobility accounts for less than 3% of China’s total mobility needs, says Didi, and it aims to raise the penetration rate to 8% by 2022.
China’s equivalent of Uber – actually, the company took over the US competitor’s Chinese business in 2016 – says it now delivers ten billion trips a year.
In the D1, the latest technology is being used in BYD’s recently presented ‘blade battery’. It is forged with cobalt-free LFP cells for a claimed range of some 420 km (NEDC). Under the hood lies a 100 kW electric motor.
According to reliable sources, the average electricity consumption during common ride-sharing trips should not be more than 12 kWh/100 km. It makes us estimate that the battery pack will have a capacity of around 50 kWh.
Some design touches help this vehicle to fit seamlessly into app-based ride-hailing. For example, there are three screens, one for the driver in the dashboard and two in the backrests for passengers to follow the route and other information.
A smaller screen behind the steering wheel serves as an instrument cluster. The right door slides open automatically, allowing easy and safe access. Drivers get support from level 2 assisted driving systems like automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, and pedestrian collision warning.
Didi claims it included insights from its user base of over 550 million registered passengers and 31 million drivers in building the D1. “The product design team analyzed almost 10 million advice and feedback, alongside the survey results from over 10 000 drivers and passengers,” says Jean Liu, President of Didi.
Didi drivers perform about 60 million trips per day. Apart from BYD, the company is also working with FAW, BAIC, GAW, Toyota, Volkswagen, or Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi. The collaboration ranges from trading and leasing, fleet operation, maintenance, and service to energy supply and vehicles’ co-design.
As with Uber, it will be on the drivers or partners to buy into the electric transition. Didi will launch a pilot program in Changsha in December before gradually rolling out the new EV to DiDi’s leasing partners in major Chinese cities in the coming months.
The planning is to put 10 000 D1 in service this year and 100 000 in 2021, but these numbers are unconfirmed. There’s no information on pricing yet. About the car’s availability outside the ride-sharing market in China, there’s no information either.