Funny cars, looking like London taxis, have been streaking on the streets of Paris for a few days, without a sound. But make no mistake about it: they actually belong to the Chinese VTC platform CaoCao (pronounce “TsaoTsao”), which decided to launch out in France, starting with Paris.
CaoCao is a subsidiary of Geely, the first private car manufacturer in China, owner of the Swedish Volvo and probably soon of the English Aston Martin. Since 2018, it has mainly been associated with the German Daimler (up to 9.6% of the capital), parent company of Mercedes, to produce the Smart.
Already number two in its country of origin (behind Didi), CaoCao has, after five years of existence, 33 million users and 50,000 cars in 51 Chinese cities. From now on, the platform wants to attack the French market and it is putting resources into it. The beta version of the application (downloadable on Apple and Android) was launched on January 2, with only a few cars available at the start.
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Less than a month later, there are already more than 200. And another hundred will arrive by the end of March. You will not be able to miss them. Geely bought London Taxi International, which manufactures the famous London taxi, in 2013. Three years of research and development later, this icon of the British capital, like Big Ben, and which has operated until now diesel, turned into a 100% electric vehicle.
Why Paris? "This is the very first experience of the platform outside of China," explains Veruschka Becquart, a former member of Atout France, the public agency for tourism development in France, and who became development director of CaoCao last October. And Paris represents the first tourist destination in the world, with an extremely dynamic VTC market since it grows on average by 9% per year. There is room for new players. It is also the city in which Jinliang Liu, one of the co-founders of CaoCao, has taken up residence since 2004. The French headquarters of CaoCao is located in Levallois-Perret (92), with around fifteen employees.
In terms of prices, CaoCao does not have the ambition to cut prices. “We will even be in the upper range of the average VTC prices in Paris, admits Veruschka Becquart. There is absolutely no question of cutting corners on the remuneration of our drivers. »Recruited with independent status, they will receive 77% of the price of the race. The remaining 23% is for the platform. A rating system offered by the application also allows them to benefit, in case of good reviews, from a bonus.
A minimum rate of 9.50 euros
CaoCao wishes to emphasize the qualities of service. And the director of development reminds that all the cars are new, silent, ecological and secure, since a window separates the driver from the passengers. Spacious, they can accommodate up to six people. Enough to pool the races if you travel in a group. The minimum price is 9.50 euros, and 20 euros if you book in advance.
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The meter then takes into account the mileage and duration of the trip, also integrating supply and demand, on the model of yield management, inspired by the air. As other competitors can do, starting with the American platform Uber, which is clearly on CaoCao's radar. "If our development in Paris is satisfactory, which we do not doubt," says Veruschka Becquart, "we will quickly set out to conquer other cities." French first, then European. "