SANTIAGO, Feb. 20 (Xinhua) -- For many Chileans without a private car, Chinese mobile car-hailing platform DiDi Chuxing, which helps integrate innovation into local public transit, has become an attractive option by providing convenient and economical services.
"I was surprised by the service," said Cristobal Velasquez, a big fan of DiDi, the popular ride-share application which first arrived in Chile in 2019 and quickly became a novel example of China-Latin America cooperation.
Velasquez recalled that he recently got a DiDi ride from Maipu to San Miguel, two communities in the Santiago metropolitan region with a distance of 16 km.
"It was a safe trip, the car was in very good condition, and it even cost less than what the app had told me," he said, adding that if he had taken a bus, the trip would have taken much longer.
DiDi began its Chilean operations from the coastal city of Valparaiso, expanding businesses over the next few months into 23 cities, more than 90 percent of Chile's urban area.
"The Chilean public's response has been fantastic, even exceeding our most optimistic expectations. We launched just a few months ago and now we have coverage all over the country," DiDi Chile's Director of Corporate Communications Felipe Contreras told Xinhua, adding that the platform currently has almost 2 million users and 190,000 drivers.
After the outbreak of social unrest in Chile last October, public transportation was heavily affected across the country. In the circumstance, DiDi has served as an important means of transportation for residents and seen "a significant increase" in use.
DiDi became the first operator "to eliminate the dynamic fee and the driver commission charge for more than a week during the most difficult periods of social unrest, which created a new standard in the industry," the company reported.
DiDi represents "a new wave of Chinese investment in Latin America, based on the development of sophisticated products and services that compete within industries that historically have been covered by developed countries," Andres Borquez, director of the Center of Chinese Studies at the University of Chile, told Xinhua.
"In this sense," said Borquez, "it can be seen how China has been diversifying its economic presence in Latin America, passing, a decade ago, from concentrated investment in the extraction of natural resources to investment centered on the development of innovation."
Currently, DiDi has 20 million registered customers in more than 1,000 cities across Latin America. The company has 1,500 employees in the region, including engineers and operational staff, 90 percent of whom are local.