A global ride-sharing alliance between rivals of Uber Technologies Inc. shifts into a higher gear Thursday, when users of a popular Southeast Asia-focused transport app can begin making car bookings via Lyft Inc. in the United States.
Users of the Grab app from Singapore-based GrabTaxi Holdings Pte. Ltd., which operates in 30 cities across six Southeast Asian countries, can now use the service to hail vehicles whose drivers take part in Lyft’s service in more than 200 US cities, The Wall Street Journal reports.
In December, Lyft said it was teaming up with Grab after announcing a similar agreement with Chinese firm Didi Chuxing Technology Co. in September, bolstering competition against the much larger Uber.
Indian ride-hailing app Ola also plans to connect its app to Lyft in the coming months.
The market for ride hailing is becoming a global war of competing alliances, as fast-growing startups attract strategic investments from some of the largest technology companies and carmakers.
Last month alone, Apple Inc. said it invested US$1 billion in Didi, Toyota Motor Corp. said it invested in Uber, and Volkswagen AG put US$300 million in Tel Aviv-based taxi-hailing startup Gett. Earlier this year, General Motors Co. invested US$500 million in Lyft.
Didi said in April its customers could begin ordering Lyft cars through the Didi app when they are visiting the US.
Grab says Thursday’s launch starts the first two-way integration among partners in the alliance.
The tie-up “enables our customers to focus more on whatever they’re [in the US] for,” Grab’s co-founder, Tan Hooi Ling, told the Journal Wednesday on the sidelines of a tech conference in Hong Kong.
“We want to make sure our customers don’t think too much about transportation” when they are in the US.
Users of the app from Grab, which was founded in 2011 and says its app is used by one in every nine smartphone users in Southeast Asia, will be able to book rides via credit cards and pay using their home countries’ currencies.
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