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China’s Didi Chuxing introduces the world’s first purpose-built EV for eHailing

Two of China’s biggest companies Didi Chuxing and BYD recently unveiled the D1, a purpose-built EV for eHailing. According to Didi, the EV is set to roll out in major Chinese cities in the coming months.

The Chinese made EV is the result of a two-year partnership between Didi, the top e-hailing provider in China and BYD, an electric vehicle (EV) manufacturer. Didi is one of the world’s largest eHailing operators and claims to have performed 10 billion trips in a year. The company said it has gathered data from its 550 million registered passengers and 31 million drivers to design the D1.

The five-seater hatchback is said to have a range of 418km based on the NEDC (New European Driving Cycle) standard. So far, it seems there is only one colour variant for the D1 called “avocado green”. The colour pays homage to Didi’s bike-sharing service, Qingju, that also uses the same shade of green for its bicycles.

The compact EV comes with a couple of interesting features that are specifically designed for eHailing. This includes two touchscreens on the back of the car’s two headrests that passengers can use to access in-vehicle environmental and infotainment settings during their ride.

The D1 is also said to offer passengers extra legroom for added comfort as well as sliding doors to facilitate safe pickup and drop-off. Drivers also get an ergonomic seat that is designed for extended city driving.

Didi has also included a number of safety features including a driver monitoring system that ensures that drivers keep their hands on the wheel and stay focused while on the road.

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In addition, it comes with a Level 2 Assisted Driving system that includes automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, and pedestrian collision warning.

Though there wasn’t much information about the engine powering the D1, automotive journalist Greg Kable said in a tweet that the five-seater D1 will be powered by a 136bhp (100kW) electric motor. The EV is said to use lithium-ion batteries made by BYD at its Fudi factories in Chongqing.

The Chinese eHailing giant said it has big ambitions and wants to build an automotive ecosystem for its core mobility service. It intends to do so by establishing an extensive alliance with manufacturers, energy providers and other industry players in the value chain. Didi said it plans to roll out about 1 million electric cars on its platform.

Now, it should be said that the D1 is far from the only vehicle that has been designed specifically for commercial services. In the past, New York City had its “Taxi of Tomorrow” which came in the form of the Nissan NV200, but that car only lasted seven years before it lost its exclusive deal. London’s iconic black cab were also designed and built by a company called the London Taxi Company. It so happens that that company was bought by China’s Geely in 2015 and is now making electric cars.

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