RIDESHARING service DiDi Express will be launched in Newcastle next week and looks set to take a slice out of the market its competitor has enjoyed a hold of in the city.
A global transport conglomerate, DiDi operates ridesharing services in more 400 cities and launched in Melbourne last June after a trial in Geelong.
The China-based giant has begun an aggressive marketing push in Newcastle to attract drivers and riders, and will offer discounts to both in its first few weeks of operation.
DiDi spokesman Douglas Toy described Newcastle as "the perfect place" for the company to make its first foray into NSW.
"It's got such a vibrant, young university population," he said.
"There's tonnes happening when we're launching … and it's actually really visionary in terms of the smart-city policy the city has adopted."
Asked how DiDi Express differed from taxis or Uber, Mr Toy pointed to the service's "affordability for riders" and its dedication to "increasing the earning potential of its drivers".
"In Melbourne and Geelong we're doing that through a really low service's fee, otherwise known as commission, of five per cent, which is way lower than the industry standard," he said.
"But obviously because we're launching in Newcastle and we're excited to bring drivers on board - we've been recruiting drivers for about a month - we're offering any driver who signs up before we go live zero per cent commission.
"Which really means they get to keep 100 per cent of every fare during DiDi's launch period of six weeks, which is unheard of."
Drivers who sign up before March 11 will also receive a $100 bonus after completing their 10th trip.
Riders will get a $50 welcome pack if they download the app before the launch and save up to 50 per cent on two rides per day for the first three weeks, except on Saturdays, when the company will hold DiDiDAYs and give riders access to two free rides to the value of $20 each.
Mr Toy said the company had chosen the three days because there was a variety of events being held around the city, including The Drop Music Festival, Surfest, a Newcastle Knights match and Newcastle Beer Fest.
"DiDi provides affordable ride share, and really what we want to give Novocastrians is the ability to spend less on rides and to live more and enjoy everything Newy has to offer," he said.
"On those Saturdays, they're packed."
DiDi is confident of attracting drivers for the launch and Mr Toy said there had been an "excitement generated in the driver community" since recruitment began.
"The response from drivers so far has been insane," he said. "It's been incredible. There's no alternative and we're offering an alternative."
"There's no alternative [in Newcastle's ridesharing market] and we're offering an alternative. Our standard rate is five per cent, which means they get to keep 95 per cent of every fare."
In Australia, Uber drivers are understood to make 75 per cent of their weekly fares.