Last year, Lyft teamed up with a trio of Asian ride-hail apps — China's Didi Kuaidi, India's Ola, and Southeast Asia's Grab — to better compete against Uber. Now we're starting to see the fruits of that partnership. This week, Didi users traveling in the US can use their app to hail a Lyft car. It will take a few more weeks for Grab passengers to do the same and for Lyft customers to be able to call for a Didi or Grab taxi in those companies' respective countries.
Lyft says the seamlessness of its integration with Didi is its key feature: Chinese travelers in the US won't need to download a new app to call for a ride, nor will they need to worry about currency exchanges or language barriers. Thanks to application program interface (API) integration, Didi users can summon a Lyft ride within their own app's ecosystem. And soon, Lyft riders will be able to do the same when traveling in Asia.
"Imagine you're a Didi user traveling to San Francisco"
"Imagine you're a Didi user traveling to San Francisco — you can step off the plane, tap your Didi app, and get a Lyft from SFO to a taqueria in the Mission or a business meeting in Menlo Park," Lyft writes in a blog post.
Uber's rapid growth in Asia, particularly in China, has set off a high-stakes race with Didi, the country's top ride-hail service. Uber CEO Travis Kalanick said in a recent interview that his company is losing about $1 billion a year in China, thanks in most part to Didi's tight grip on the market — estimated to be at least 80 percent. "We have a fierce competitor that's unprofitable in every city they exist in, but they're buying up market share," Kalanick said in an interview in February. "I wish the world wasn't that way."
Didi, which is valued at $20 billion, recently invested $100 million in Lyft. It was seen as an effort to keep the much smaller No. 2 ride-hail company in the US afloat, preventing Uber from becoming a monopoly. Partnerships with larger, more established companies has been Lyft's lifeblood in its fight with Uber. It also teamed up with General Motors late last year to create a fleet of driverless, on-demand cars. And its collaboration with Didi, Grab, and Ola will ensure its ability to extend its reach beyond the US.