China’s car-hailing business is thriving, but a growing number of drivers on these platforms are complaining about bad business and low returns.
“I work for more than ten hours a day and earn about 400 yuan a day on average, so deducting gasoline costs, I am just netting about 6,000 yuan (US$900) a month,” a driver surnamed Chao told reporters.
Chao became a driver after losing his job at a listed firm, which was hit badly by the country’s economic slowdown. He said he is looking for a job with a more stable income.
The ambiguity about the legality of car-hailing services, or effectively unlicensed taxi service, is also keeping many drivers on their toes.
Noticing the popularity of car-hailing apps, a driver named Zhang joined the industry recently by taking out a loan to buy his own car.
“If you are unfamiliar with the route and you make a mistake, you could easily become the subject of a complaint,” Zhang said.
“Customers leave bad reviews about you and that in turn reduces your chances of getting new passengers.”
Drivers are also unhappy about the decision of several car-hailing service operators to reduce or, in some cases, remove entirely their subsidies.
Previously, major car-hailing firms competed ferociously against each other for market share and offered generous discounts to passengers and subsidies to drivers to lure more users.
But after having burnt billions of dollars to enlarge the market in the past few years, they are now less keen to keep offering such incentives.
Uber’s recent retreat from the China market strengthened Didi Chuxing’s position as the dominant player, giving it less reason to offer generous pricing.
Jean Liu, president of Didi, told Caixin magazine that as the big data technology keeps improving, car-hailing apps will be able to more accurately predict demand at different locations at different hours, helping divers to minimize their vacant time.
Along with the growth in the number of passengers booking car service on their mobile phones, drivers should be able to earn a competitive income.
Drivers certainly hope this will happen soon, or else they may have to find themselves a better job.
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