Chinese ridesharing giant DiDi is gearing up to launch in New Zealand, promising to be 10 per cent cheaper than market leader Uber.
But the San Francisco-based Uber appears unfazed, it says it believes its loyalty programmes and ever-evolving technology will keep it front of mind with consumers.
Interestingly, DiDi acquired Uber in China in 2016, shutting down the operation - and the competition.
DiDi is headquartered in Beijing and was founded in 2012 and has expanded its services throughout Asia and Latin America. The business is already operational in Australia, and is the market leader after Uber, trumping business of Indian counterpart Ola.
The company is tight-lipped on when exactly it will launch here, but says it will be live in Auckland before the end of the year.
Dan Jordan, head of marketing and public relations for DiDi Australia and New Zealand, was unable to share any specific details about the launch date or pricing.
He said DiDi offered a more affordable ridesharing service and "industry leading driver service fees", meaning they could earn more from using its platform.
"Savings are found in our operating efficiencies. We make sure that the way we operate is hugely efficient so we are able to not only to charge riders less but give more back to the drivers," Jordan told the Herald.
DiDi operates other businesses, including a delivery business, globally and in Australia, and Jordan said it would look into the potential for these in New Zealand.
He said DiDi would not be setting up a local office upon launch, and that the New Zealand business would be run for the company's Melbourne office.
"DiDi New Zealand will be run as a separate business with its own strategy and approach to ensure we best serve the New Zealand market. Ultimately, New Zealand and Australia are different in their needs for a rideshare service, that's why we want to bring the most tailored and most localised approach possible to ensure the best possible user experience."
Once it has launched in Auckland, DiDi would expand into other areas of New Zealand.
It has already begun driver-partner registration and says drivers that sign up before launch will get competitive referral incentives, including up to $4000 to drivers who successfully refer 300 passengers and $100 for every driver they successfully refer, and a flat 5 per cent service fee for four weeks, lower than Uber's rates.
Asked what Uber thinks of its soon-to-be competition, a spokesman for the company said: "We welcome competition because it keeps us focused on delivering the very best product and customer experience for riders and driver partners.
"Since Uber launched in Auckland in 2014, we have set the bar for ridesharing and will continue to do so.
"The reliability and convenience of Uber, the ability to push a button and get a ride, is why hundreds of thousand of Kiwis regularly share rides with more than 7,700 active driver-partners.
"We continue to build cutting-edge technology and features to help improve safety for riders and driver-partners on the app. These include an in-app emergency button that connects riders and driver-partners with emergency services, a Share My Trip feature which allows riders and drivers to share their whereabouts and trip status with family and friends in real time, and Check Your Ride push notifications which remind people to check the driver's photo and licence number before getting in the vehicle."
The spokesman said Uber was the only rideshare platform that rewards riders and drivers through its loyalty programmes, with drive-partners able to access discounts on fuel and benefits such as discounts with Supercheap Auto, Beaurepaires and 2degrees, and riders with discounts on Uber Eats.
DiDi says it has over half a billion users globally and service over 10 billion passenger trips each year, while Uber says 18 million trips each day.