China’s largest ride-hailing company is joining forces with San Francisco-based counterpart Lyft in a deal that allows them to serve each other’s passengers.
Lyft users traveling in China will have access to Didi Kuaidi, which in turn can tap the US company for its customers.
Reuters is reporting that the partnership goes live early next year and Didi Kuaidi president Jean Liu is describing it as “a brand-new era for the global rideshare industry”.
Lyft co-founder and president John Zimmer said Didi Kuaidi invested US$100 million in his company as part of a financing round led by Japan’s Rakuten earlier this year that also included activist investor Carl Icahn, Alibaba Group and Tencent Holdings.
The investment is widely seen as bolstering the competitive threat to Uber in its home market.
The companies will take advantage of each other’s knowledge of local regulations which have stymied many tech companies’ attempts to enter China, as well as technology, products and financial resources.
Lyft is in about 65 US cities but has delayed moving overseas, despite saying in early 2013 that it would be a global service by the end of the following year.
It has been unable to shake its second-place status in the U.S. where Uber dominates in most cities.
Zimmer said the partnership allows Lyft to bring its app to international travelers while focusing its resources on important domestic markets, such as New York City.
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