BEIJING (Reuters) - U.S. ride-hailing service Uber Technologies Inc [UBER.UL] will enter 100 more Chinese cities over the next year, doubling a previous goal set just three months ago, Chief Executive Travis Kalanick said on Tuesday.
Uber’s China unit currently operates in almost 20 cities, Kalanick said at an event in Beijing held by Uber investor Baidu Inc (BIDU.O).
The speech comes a day after Kalanick said the China unit had raised $1.2 billion during ongoing fundraising, while people familiar with the matter told Reuters that larger local rival Didi Kuaidi had brought in $3 billion.
The two firms are spending heavily to subsidize rides and gain market share, betting on China’s Internet-linked transport market becoming the world’s biggest and most lucrative.
“When we started this year, we were about one percent market share. Today, nine months later, we’re looking at about 30 to 35 percent market share”, Kalanick said. He did not specify whether that market was for all ride-hailing services including taxis, where Didi Kuaidi dominates, or just for private cars.
Uber also welcomes new regulations expected later this year governing ride-hailing services in China, Kalanick said.
At the event, Baidu, China’s Internet search leader, demonstrated a voice-operated artificial intelligence smartphone assistant for finding nearby offline services, which could also control a robot reminiscent of Disney’s WALL-E.
After the Baidu slot, Kalanick spoke of the importance of Uber’s relationship with the Internet firm.
“We can get introductions to the city governments, the government officials that want to shepherd our kind of innovation and our kind of progress into their cities,” he said.
During the speech, Kalanick adopted the language of Chinese officialdom, riffing on favored Communist Party subjects such as harmony and stability.
“Progress is something we see the government be incredibly open to, whether it be about more jobs and less pollution, less congestion on the streets, better utilization of infrastructure, that kind of progress always has to be in harmony with stability and that is one of the big things that we partnered with the government on,” he said.
Reporting by Jake Spring; Writing by Paul Carsten; Editing by Kazunori Takada and Christopher Cushing