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The Battle For Asia’s Ride-Hailing Continues

A recent mobility study on regional ride-hailing markets finds that 16 billion ride-hailing trips were completed worldwide in 2017 and forecasts 24 billion completed trips by the end of 2018. The recent report by ABI Research, a market-foresight advisory firm providing strategic guidance on the most compelling transformative technologies, analyzed the number of ride-hailing trips completed by users in different regions and evaluated market shares for each region. The results showed that just over 70 percent of ride-hailing trips were completed in Asia alone, with the next biggest markets being North America and Latin America, with only 5 percent of trips being completed in Western Europe due to stricter regulation.

“The sheer size of the Asian ride-hailing market has prompted numerous companies, both local and foreign, to try and establish a foothold in the local markets,” Shiv Patel, research analyst at ABI Research, said. “In direct contrast to Western Europe and North America, vehicle ownership is relatively low in Asian markets due to the large expense and impracticality for consumers in large cities. This has spurred the growth of dynamic ride-hailing services, where the average cost of a trip can be as low as US$0.10 per mile. This low cost combined with a favorable regulatory environment has really helped foster the use of ride-hailing services.”

It hasn’t been all success stories for those operating in Asia, however. Some foreign companies, such as Uber, have struggled in the region, leading to its exit out of China and South-East Asia. Uber’s withdrawal from the region, however, has helped create extra opportunities for local players, as they look to establish themselves and expand within the region and globally. For instance, Didi Chuxing has used Uber’s exit to establish a strong leading market position in China, with over 90 percent market share of the largest ride-hailing market in the world. Players in South-East Asia such as GO-JEK and Grab, have used the withdrawal of Uber to step up investment and expansion in the area. Ride-hailing in Indonesia, the largest market in South-East Asia and the fourth largest market ride-hailing globally, after ChinaIndia and the United States, has recently seen fierce competition driven by increasing investment and expansion in the country.

“The Indonesia market was once a three-way race between Uber, GO-JEK, and Grab. However, with a slowly decreasing market share in the region, Uber decided to withdraw from the market, selling its assets to Grab. Grab used aggressive investment over 2017 and the acquisition of Uber’s South-East-Asian operations to develop a dominant market-leading position (by the number of trips) in the Indonesian ride-hailing market,” explained Patel.  “Our research showed that at the beginning of 2017, Grab had just 30 percent market share of the Indonesian ride-hailing market, while local rival GO-JEK had a commanding 58 percent of the market. By the end of June 2018, Grab had made an impressive turnaround, establishing a 62 percent market share of the ride-hailing market — a direct result of its aggressive investment and expansion in Indonesia over 2017, which was further helped by its acquisition of Uber’s business in the region in 2018.”

However, it’s not all doom and gloom for Uber in the region. The company still has a strong market share in India, the third largest ride-hailing market globally. Uber was found to have a 46 percent market share in the country, just behind local rival Ola Cabs, who recently announced it was taking on Uber in the U.K, one of Uber’s strongest markets.

“Overall, the results showed that ride-hailing is growing at a remarkable pace and that Asia is the key market underpinning this growth. Uber’s exit out of the large Asian ride-hailing markets will be a painful pill to them to swallow. Despite this setback, Uber is still the only company to have leading market positions across different global markets (Latin AmericaNorth America, and Western Europe). However, as Asian ride-hailing players start to build significant scale on their Asian operations, Uber must be prepared to face competition from not only local players in European and Latin Americamarkets but also from the likes of Ola Cabs, Didi Chuxing, and Grab as they look to expand beyond their core home markets,” Patel concluded.

These findings are from ABI Research’s Vehicle and Mobility Market Data report. This report is part of the company’s Smart Mobility & Automotive research service, which includes research, data, and Executive Foresights.

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