Didi and BAIC executives agree to cooperate (Photo: Didi Chuxing)

Didi Chuxing and BAIC Group will jointly operate an electric-vehicle car-sharing program in China.

Didi, which operates China's largest mobile transportation platform, said it had formed a strategic partnership with automaker BAIC to work together in areas such as EV fleet operation, big data applications, mobility services, and customized vehicle design. The two companies also plan to jointly develop EV charging services.

China is the world's largest and fastest growing EV market, as government incentives actively steer people away from buying combustion-engine powered vehicles.

And the country's advanced mobile communications infrastructure helps to quickly implement connected mobility strategies.

Chinese customers bought more than 600,000 EVs last year, up 72 pc from 2016, according to the Electric Vehicle Index compiled by McKinsey. Globally, around 1.2 million EVs were sold in 2017, implying that roughly half went to China.

China also leads in the production of EVs, with a market share of 41 pc, according to McKinsey. That compares with 19 pc for Japan and 18 pc for Germany.

At a signing ceremony last week, Didi founder and CEO Cheng Wei highlighted the need to develop all aspects of the Chinese electric-vehicle market.

"Shared mobility, new energy vehicle networks, and new AI driving technologies are integrally linked to each other," he said.

Cheng said Didi is keen to partner with other automakers as well to build an artificial-intelligence-powered transportation ecosystem.

-By Arjen Bongard