Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing (Didi) and car rental behemoth Avis have announced a partnership that will give registered Didi users easy access to car rental services when traveling abroad.
Available in 175 countries around the world, the tie-up will essentially allow Didi to monetize its 300 million-strong user base — even when they’re traveling outside of China. Through the initiative, the two companies plan to “coordinate product, technology, and local marketing resources” and let Didi users book car rental services directly through Didi’s mobile app.
Didi Chuxing emerged in early 2015 following a merger between local rivals Didi Dache and Kuaidi Dache. The service offers smartphone-based car services such as taxis, carpooling, and premium cars with drivers — much like Uber — and it is the market leader in China by some distance. Back in July, Uber effectively gave up on its mission to conquer China on its own and elected to merge its Chinese operations with Didi in a $35 billion deal. A few months prior to that, Apple contributed $1 billion to a mammoth $7.3 billion funding round by Didi.
While Uber has been slowly conquering the globe on a region-by-region basis, Didi has its own domestic market cornered. However, this limits the company’s prospects for growth, which is why it’s pursuing other avenues to ensure its bottom line continues on an upward trajectory. Back in September, the company invested “tens of millions” of dollars in Chinese bike-sharing startup Ofo, adding another service to the Didi slate, which already included taxis, car rental, bus services, and chauffeurs. Beefing up its in-country services makes sense, as does finding ways to “go global” without tackling incumbents such as Uber.
“Internationalization is a clear mission for Didi,” explained FU Qiang, senior vice president of Didi Chuxing and general manager for Didi Car Rental. “The partnership with Avis Budget Group is a key step in Didi’s broader initiative to go global, as we continue to explore the frontier of innovation with our growing data capacities. Together, we will provide quality local travel experience across the world for China’s fast-expanding outbound travelers’ community. We also look forward to building a more connected global mobility network that builds greater momentum for growth on a spirit of openness and sharing.”
Avis is no stranger to transport-centric startups — back in 2013 it acquired car-sharing network Zipcar in a $500 million deal. Now, by signing Didi up as a partner, it gains a direct pipeline to millions more potential customers.