Volkswagen hopes to form a joint venture with China's Didi Chuxing to manage part of the ride-hailer's vehicle fleet and help develop customised vehicles for Didi's services, a news agency reported.

Last week, ahead of the Beijing show media opening, the automaker said "with Didi Chuxing, Volkswagen Group China is entering the first phase of a partnership by exploring mobility projects as well as smart city, autonomous driving and robo-taxi projects".

Reuters, citing a senior VW executive source, said a deal expected to be signed early next month would start with management of a fleet of about 100,000 new vehicles for Didi. Two-thirds would be VW Group cars, said a senior executive at the carmaker.

Volkswagen would also jointly buy some new cars with Didi to allow fleet expansion. The two eventually plan to collaborate to design and develop dedicated vehicles, the source said.

""To succeed as a car company in this new [ride hailing] ecosystem, we need to know who our customer is, what their journey is and what our strategy should be," the executive told Reuters.

The deal would give VW access to some of Didi's data on customer behaviour collected through 3m daily rides.

The ultimate goal is the production and use of autonomous cars, the executive told Reuters.

As many as 80% of Didi customers ride alone and don't require a big four seat car, the executive said.

A Didi spokesman told Reuters both sides were still working out details of a partnership.

"Potentially, both parties will focus on building together a fleet operation business, and look into other potential areas such as designing new car models for ride-hailing," he said.

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