Until recently, the competition between Didi Chuxing (former Didi Kuaidi) and Uber was mainly focused on China’s mobile transportation market. It seems that China’s leading ride-hailing service intends to escalate the ride-hailing war by opening up a new battlefield in Uber’s homeland: the U.S.
On Tuesday, Didi Chuxing announced the launch of the public beta version of its Didi Chuxing app with U.S. roaming capabilities in collaboration with Lyft, Uber’s major rival in its domestic market which Didi holds a stake in.
From this week, Didi’s users will be able to request rides in the U.S and access Lyft’s driver network of almost 200 major U.S. cities, including San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Seattle, and Washington D.C., through Didi’s app, according to the company’s announcement.
Targeting Chinese travelers, the app provides a cross-border transportation service that switches from Didi’s Chinese version to an overseas version within the native app once the international roaming service is activated. The same Chinese user interface is adopted, allowing the whole process from hailing and paying to providing feedback entirely in Chinese.
The payment can be made through existing in-app payment options on their app in Chinese Yuan, including WeChat and Alipay, at official exchange rates. Other features include on-demand Chinese-to-English human translation to assist driver-passenger communication and 24/7 emergency customer service support in both English and Chinese. An e-invoice function is provided for business travelers as well.
In December 2015, Didi announced a strategic partnership with US-based Lyft, India’s Ola Cabs, and Singapore’s Grab Taxi in an alliance against mutual rival Uber, which is gaining traction beyond its domestic market.
The partnership with Lyft is among the first to connect services of the two apps. Lyft users will be able to use similar services from Didi’s network when roaming in China in Q2 2016.
The roaming products between Didi and other partners are expected to launch throughout the year to cover over 50% of the world’s population, the company added.
As Didi’s presence in the market intensifies, the company is setting its new funding target at 1.5 billion USD which puts effectively its valuation at 20 billion USD.