New vehicle sales, ride-hailing trips plunge in 2020

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Covid-19 and the resultant measures taken by the government across the world to contain the spread of the virus have collapsed the demand for personal transit, with all mobility modes at the consumer’s disposal contracting significantly in the first half of 2020.

Following robust growth of 14% in 2019, the ride-hailing market has faced its first significant disruption this year, with strict controls on personal mobility, combined with a growing concern over shared spaces resulting in a contraction of over 59% in 1H 2020, according to tech market advisory firm ABI Research.

“While it might have been expected that growing consumer concerns around shared spaces would push them back into privately owned cars, this has done little to offset the collapse in new vehicle sales. With the near-total disruption of the bricks and mortar retail channel for new vehicles further compounded by a worsening macroeconomic situation it’s a bleak outlook going into 2021,” said James Hodgson, principal analyst at ABI Research

Meanwhile, the ride-hailing market has effectively come to a standstill, with numerous platforms competing for a larger share of an imploding market. After a brief conceding ground to local competitors, Uber has begun to consolidate its position global position, retaining a market share of around 70% in the US and Western Europe, and over 85% in MEA, made possible by the 2019 Careem acquisition.

Similarly, Didi and Grab have maintained a commanding market position in their key markets, with Didi having well over 90% of the Chinese market, and Grab holding 63.5% of the Indonesian market, and almost 75% percent of the Vietnamese market.

Nevertheless, despite their dominance of the ride-hailing markets in key regions, all these platforms have had to pivot aggressively towards non-ridehailing use-cases, with food and grocery delivery providing some much-needed revenue.

Didi launched delivery services in 21 Chinese cities, while Uber reinforced their existing food delivery services via the acquisition of Postmates in July 2020.

Food delivery services now account for over half of Grab’s 2020 revenues, with Grab also expanding their GrabMart grocery delivery service from 2 countries to 8 of the countries in which they operate.

This pivot toward delivery services has helped ride-hailing platforms maintain driver engagement with their mobility platforms.

“In the longer term, ride-hailing platforms must accommodate consumer and regulator concerns over the integrity of shared public spaces in order to return the core ride-hailing use-case to growth,” Hodgson said.

Alongside the usual host of measures in the “physical” domain, such as distributing hand sanitizer, mandating masks, and protective screens, ride-hailing platforms also have considerable “digital levers” at their command.

For example, ABI noted that Uber has introduced a requirement for riders to send a selfie to prove that they are wearing a mask before their trip request is accepted.

More fundamentally, ride-hailing platforms can deliver robust contact tracing, combining their digitized dispatch with their biometrics-based driver ID to systematically record all contact between their drivers and riders.

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