What happened: Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi is in talks with carmaker Nissan and its Chinese partner Dongfeng to form a joint venture for managing ride-hailing and car-sharing, Reuters cited people familiar with the matter as saying. The companies are reportedly exploring joint design and manufacture of specially tailored vehicles, both gas and electric, for Didi’s ride-hailing business. Nissan‘s China unit would help Didi manage its fleets across multiple cities, while Dongfeng Group would supply vehicles.
Why it’s important: The lines between mobility tech giants and automakers are blurring. The growing popularity of ride-hailing in China is showing the early signs of reducing private car ownership. To tap the trend, the Beijing-based firm could expand to auto design and manufacturing through joining hands with carmakers. Tailored models would likely feature smaller engines and wheels given their typically lower average speeds. Didi has formed broad alliances with 31 automakers and parts suppliers last year. Auto players are also tapping ride-hailing as part of rebranding efforts. Geely, SAIC, Dongfeng, Chang’an, FAW, Volkswagen China, and Mercedez Benz have made forays into car-sharing or ride-hailing so far.