Two of China's top companies have teamed up to design the world's first electric vehicle custom-built for ride-hailing.
Called D1, the EV is a result of collaboration between China's top ride-hailing company Didi Chuxing and BYD Company Ltd., one of the world's largest electric vehicle manufacturers.
The D1 hatchback cars will start rolling out to Didi's leasing partners in major Chinese cities in the coming months, the ride-hailing giant said this week.
The EV will be launched under a pilot programme in China's Changsha city in December before gradually introducing to other cities to serve more passengers across the country.
D1 is Didi's first step to build customised ride-hailing vehicles by leveraging its expertise and data insights from its user base of over 550 million registered passengers and 31 million drivers.
"As an industry first, DiDi has integrated the needs of hundreds of millions of users into the design of D1 by leveraging our data analytics and user feedback," Jean Liu, President of Didi, said in a statement.
"Our product design team analysed almost 10 million advice and feedback, alongside survey results from over 10,000 drivers and passengers, as well as tens of workshops. There are many impressive stories to tell."
Compared to traditional car models designed for owner-drivers, D1 builds its main differentiating advantages on extra safety, operational efficiency and passenger/driver experience.
"D1 is a ground-breaking vehicle that enables data connection between auto makers and ride-hailing platform. Powered by data, D1 is defined by usage scenario and is a purpose-built vehicle for both drivers and riders," said Jesse Yang Jun, Vice President of Didi.
The color-coded lights and sliding-door designs of D1 facilitate fast and safe pickup and drop-off.
Inside, this compact vehicle offers passengers extra space and greater control of in-vehicle environmental and infotainment settings.
Additional adaptations for drivers include ergonomic seat design for extended city driving and a friendlier driver's space set-up.
For a compact car, D1 comes with a L2 Assisted Driving system with above-the-grade manufacturer safety set-ups, including Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB), Lane Departure Warning (LDW) and Pedestrian Collision Warning (PCW).
These features are combined with Didi's ride-hailing safety innovations, including a complete Driver Monitoring System (DMS), a steering wheel with safety alerts and response functions, and an AI voice and video monitoring and analysis system that uses the company's facial and object recognition technology.
Dubbed the "DiDi Smart Driver", D1 carries an all-in-one driver assistance system that interacts with the human driver through a dashboard pad, an on-board voice assistant and the smart steering wheel.
The Smart Driver integrates the full ride-hailing service flow from driver verification, pickup and drop-off, to payment and customer service.
Its energy management function offers real-time recharging and maintenance support.
At 12.8 kwh (kilowatt-hour)/100 km, D1 has the highest energy efficiency level among its peers, said Didi which delivers over 10 billion trips per year.
The Smart Driver is linked with a fleet management system that helps larger operators track and optimise operational status.