Uber's Chinese rival backs US rival Lyft

Updated: 2015-09-17 11:36

By Hezi Jiang in New York(China Daily USA)

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The ride-sharing and ride-hailing race in China was elevated on Wednesday when Didi Kuaidi, Uber's biggest rival in China, confirmed that it has invested $100 million in Lyft, Uber's biggest competitor in the United States.

The announcement made by Didi President Jean Liu and John Zimmer, co-founder and president of Lyft, at a press conference in New York confirmed various recent media reports that cited sources as saying the investment was made in the spring.

Didi Kuaidi controls 80 percent of the overall ride-hailing market in China, where its service covers more than 360 cities. Uber operates in 11 Chinese cities, and is planning on entering 100 more in the next year.

Uber recently raised $1.2 billion for its China unit, including an additional investment from Baidu Inc. Didi Kuaidi is approaching a second closing that would raise an additional $1 billion, after bringing in $2 billion in July, according to The Wall Street Journal. In July, Didi Kuaidi was valued at $15 billion. Uber was most recently valued at $51 billion.

Liu said her company has "strong faith in Lyft's future in the US", and that Uber is a very strong competitor in China, "but we feel really good about our position in China right now".

"In the last two months, We tripled our completed rides in New York, and got our pick up time down to three minutes," said Zimmer.

In addition to having Uber as their rival, Liu said that "Lyft and Didi share very similar philosophy".

"For this collaboration, it's more about how we can bring the evolution of this industry to the next level," Liu said.

She said ride-sharing is still in its infancy in China, and that Didi Kuaidi and Lyft hope to combine the power of their advanced algorithm systems and ride-matching capabilities, share local knowledge and other business-related resources and explore new models of cross-platform and cross-regional market development.

The two companies technology and product development teams will collaborate on launching cross-platforms early next year so their users can access local on-demand transportation services offered by each partner company when they travel in the US and China.

A Lyft user from the US will be able to use the Didi service when in China, and can hail a taxi, get a private car, or use Hitch, the social ride-sharing feature launched by Didi in June.

Liu said Lyft might use the social ride-sharing feature in the US. It allows every car owner put in his starting point and destination, and the app will match him with possible passengers who are going on the same route.

"People from the States will love it," Liu said.

She said the two companies also are discussing making available Chinese drivers who speak English for Lyft users who travel to the country.