Didi just raised $7.3 billion
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Photo credit: Tech in Asia

Photo credit: Tech in Asia

Yet Uber’s response is tame

Tech in Asia

Didi Chuxing has dominated the headlines this week, from its iOS 10 integrations to its staggering $7.3 billion in funding. To this, Uber says, “Oh hey, remember us?”

In a briefing session with Chinese media today, reps from Uber’s mainland operations sought to quell fears that the company is getting outfoxed in China.

The company said it is on track to hit its goal of 100 cities in China by the end of 2016, and is about to open in its 60th, Kunming. By comparison, Didi is currently active in around 400 cities.

The travel angle

One area where Uber hopes to snag the narrative from Didi is with Chinese Uber users hailing cars abroad. The company has partnered with a number of travel-related companies, including TripAdvisor, Qunar, and HNA Group (which operates Hainan Airlines).

The scope of the integrations vary. Hainan Airlines, for example, will feature a “Hail a ride” button in its app and will also print Uber promo codes on each passenger’s ticket. Members of the airline’s frequent flyer program will be able to use their miles to pay for Uber rides.

According to the company, Chinese Uber riders have taken more than one million rides overseas since the beginning of the year, in some 374 cities around the globe.

But in the ridiculous, super-sized world of Chinese ride hailing, one million rides over six months is nothing to write home about. Didi Chuxing sees 10 million rides every single day across its services, and it hasn’t been sleepwalking through the international business either. The company has strong alliances with the world’s Uber competitors, from Lyft in the U.S. to Ola in India.

Travel features are nice, but they’re never going to be a keystone in a ride hailing company’s business. The real fight is on the ground in second- and third-tier Chinese cities. And with comically gargantuan funding numbers, support from Apple, and a presence in six times as many cities, Didi is putting up one hell of a fight.

Editing by Terence Lee

This post was originally published on Tech in Asia

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Erik Crouch

About Erik Crouch


Erik is an American living in Shanghai, where he follows start-ups, rides the high-speed rail, and buys too many new phones. He specializes in Chinese tech, and what that means for the rest of the world.

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