Yet Uber’s response is tame
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 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.