LEVC, a high-end commercial car brand owned by Geely, released a new online ride-hailing platform on October 31 called “Top Hat Travel,” or “Limao Chuxing” in Chinese. Top Hat Travel focuses on high-quality and customized travel services, and can also provide one-to-one in-depth customized services for enterprises. So far, it has been officially put into operation in three Chinese cities, providing travel services for a total of 500,000 people during the previous trial operation.
LEVC is a British automobile brand founded in 1908 and acquired by Geely in 2013. It launched a new electric model, the TX5, in 2018. In 2021, following investment from LEVC, Top Hat Travel was formally established.
Today’s online ride-hailing service providers need to take into account the needs of all kinds of consumers in China. For example, Gen Z are more personalized, while more and more elderly people are facing inconveniences. Parents traveling with their children need more care, and disabled groups are getting increasing attention from society.
The purpose of Top Hat Travel is to cope with escalating demand with differentiated development mode and resource integration ability, and solve the contradiction between diversified user needs and single service.
Top Hat Travel uses the professional-grade LEVC TX5, which has an extra-large seating space of 3.6 cubic meters. The vehicle is also equipped with barrier-free ramp pedals, high-strength transparent partitions between the driver and passengers, 90° rotatable seats, a voice call system, a Braille control panel and so on.
The innovative operation mode of online and offline ordering is convenient for all kinds of people in various scenarios. Passengers can place an order through offline channels, apps, the WeChat mini program, and telephones.
The retail price of a TX5 in China starts from 339,800 yuan. In terms of ride-hailing pricing, the offline orders’ prices are consistent with that of normal taxis. The price of online ordering is equivalent to two-thirds of that of models in the same price range.
In the next five years, Top Hat Travel plans to be put into operation in 15 cities, where nearly 30,000 high-quality cars will be available, creating more than 30,000 jobs. The European market is also in the expansion plan. In addition, Top Hat Travel has reached cooperation with Alibaba and its online travel agency Fliggy, other ride-hailing platforms such as Caocao Mobility, AutoNavi, and Shouqi Limousine & Chauffeur.
According to a report by Northeast Securities, due to the influence of safety, service quality, policy compliance and other factors, the online ride-hailing service is changing from a consumer-to-consumer mode to a business-to-customer mode. As China’s automobile market gradually matures, more and more auto manufacturers will enter the online ride-hailing market to broaden their business scope. In addition to Geely, SAIC Motor, GAC Group, FAW Group, Dongfeng Motor and Changan Automobile have all invested in this field.