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Uber launches new carpool service in China

In China, and looking for a carpool? Try Uber.

The U.S. taxi app announced plans Wednesday for "uberCOMMUTE," a new ride-sharing service launching in the southwestern city of Chengdu.


Drivers can log into Uber, and see requests from riders going the same direction, along with what they're willing to pay for the trip. If they decide to pick someone up, drivers and riders end up sharing the cost of the trip, making it cheaper for both.

"When people can push a button and get a ride in minutes they are less likely to drive themselves," Uber wrote in a blog post announcing the service. "So instead of thirty people using their own cars, you have one car serving them all."

It makes sense for Uber to first offer its carpool service in China, where sprawling city roads are heavily congested.

But China has long been a tough nut for Uber to crack.

The company's offices in major cities like Guangzhou and Hong Kong have been raided in recent months, as taxi drivers grow frustrated with what they say is less business. Regulators have accused Uber drivers of operating without the correct licenses.

Uber also faces an uphill battle in wrestling market share from its rival, Didi Kuaidi, which controls a majority of the Chinese market. Just last week, Didi announced a new partnership with another Uber rival, San Francisco-based Lyft.