Just over three months ago, Uber launched its carpooling service, UberPool, in its single most important city in the world: Chengdu, the capital of southwestern China’s Sichuan Province. In those first 100 days, Uber said it has saved commuters in the city nearly 4.8 million kilometres — or the equivalent of going 120 times around the earth.
All those saved rides help to free up roads and reduce congestion, but there is another obvious benefit: Uber said it cut 885 tons of CO2 emissions by helping commuters traveling along the same routes share rides, instead of taking their own individual Ubers.
The emissions savings is something that anyone who has been to one of China’s major cities should be glad to hear about– China has among the worst levels of air pollution anywhere in the world.
In truth, 885 tons is nothing to shout about in the grand scheme of things. Emissions from the global shipping industry, for example, are said to amount to around 1 billion tons per year. But cars and trucks still account for nearly one-fifth of all emissions in the U.S., and those numbers are likely even higher in fast-growing countries like China.
Remember, this is just one city (albeit China’s fourth-largest, with a population of more than 14 million). The numbers really start to add up when accumulated across hundreds of cities around the world, especially if you take into account huge emerging markets like India.
Uber said its carpooling service, known as “People’s Uber+” in China, averaged about 36,000 requests per day in Chengdu. That’s a big number, and doesn’t include its other services. By comparison, the total rides delivered per day across all of Uber’s services in New York City stand at about 82,000, as of May. While Uber is already in 340 cities globally, UberPool is in just 12.
In general, Uber continues to face a tough fight to steal and hold market share in China. Just yesterday, news broke that it may have a new (smaller) rival in the country. Private-car service Yidao Yongche is said to be raising $700 million, which would value it at over $1 billion.
But Uber’s real rival, and the market leader, remains Didi Chuxing (formerly Didi Kuaidi), which officially launched its bus-booking service on Monday, and just beat Uber to land China’s first Internet car-booking license. Uber isn’t intimidated though: It continues to plow money into the country while doing its best to be seen to be working closely with government and regulators.
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