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Didi car-hailing app strives to improve service and passenger safety

Didi Chuxing said it will launch a separate application for its chauffeur service Didi Premier following safety concerns over private cars operating on its platform. 

China's leading online car-hailing company Didi Chuxing said on Friday it will launch a separate application for its premium service called Didi Premier, following safety concerns over private cars operating on its platform. 

Didi Premier will serve high-end customers, which would be separate from its hitch hiking service, with upgraded facilities such as in-vehicle air purifiers and special care for visually impaired passengers. 

Didi Chuxing Chief Executive Officer Cheng Wei said it will strengthen Didi Premier’s service, as well as sticking to its core mission to make car-hailing more convenient and affordable.

It will offer a separate service hotline which will be available around the clock, and later this year it will also release a co-branded credit card with China Merchants Bank to provide more value-added financial services.   

The move came as Didi tries to win back customers after growing concern that private cars and drivers without strict vetting may pose a potential risk to passengers. 

Meanwhile, the company is also facing increasing pressure from new entrants such as Dida Chuxing and Meituan Dianping, who seek to benefit from the booming online to offline service sector.  

Last month, Didi introduced a zero tolerance policy to ensure driver-vehicle matches after a murder case involving a Didi Hitch driver was revealed, causing public backlash over the safety of the hugely popular service.

Driver facial recognition has been implemented on selected Didi rides and every Didi Hitch trip to minimize the risk of unapproved account use.

The Ministry of Transport has urged car hailing applications to ensure passenger safety, and asked local transport authorities to step up scrutiny against ride hailing service providers and to vet unqualified vehicles and drivers.

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