Lyft Opens Its Car Doors To Chinese Travelers Who Need a Ride

April 11, 2016, 10:00 PM UTC
Courtesy of Lyft

Chinese travelers who use the Didi Kuaidi ride-hailing app will able to use it to book a ride on Lyft when visiting the U.S.

The integration, announced Monday, will let Didi Kuaidi passengers more easily hail ride in the 200 U.S. cities where Lyft is available starting later this week. The goal is to increase the utility of both services by creating a sort of airline-like alliance, whereby companies can funnel their customers to one another.

Didi users will be able to use the same app they always have. It will remain in Chinese, display fare prices and fare estimates in Chinese RMB, and let them pay via Alipay and WeChat Pay.

Additionally, Didi will provide its traveling customers with not only its usual round-the-clock customer support service, but also live interpretation service that they can access by tapping a button. When using the translation service, passengers will be connected via a three-way call to an interpreter from a third-party provider in China who can help them communicate with their U.S. driver.

“We hope to really provide them with as seamless an experience they have back home,” Lyft head of international products and payments Kristina Gibson said during a press event on Monday.

Didi-Lyft screen shot
Courtesy of Didi Kuaidi
Courtesy of Didi Kuaidi


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Under the deal, the work flow for Lyft drivers will be unchanged including the rates and commissions they usually earn, the company confirmed. And while Didi Kuaidi passengers will pay through their local accounts, Lyft will pay its drivers directly.

Lyft and Didi Kuaidi declined to share specifics about any financial arrangement between the two companies.

Lyft plans to roll out information and training materials to its drivers this week, while Didi Kuaidi says it plans to alert its users that the service is now available to them if and when they travel to the U.S.

The cross promotion is the first concrete result of a partnership first announced by Didi and Lyft in September. They were soon after joined by Grab in Southeast Asia and Ola in India in creating an international alliance.

Both Lyft and Didi emphasized the huge potential market for international travelers. According to figures shared by Lyft, 9.64 million people traveled from Asia to the U.S. in 2014, and 5.46 million from the U.S. to Asia that same year.

However, executives declined to share how many Didi Kuaidi users they expect will book Lyft rides or how frequently.


One obvious advantage the alliance brings for Lyft is that it’s now partnered with the largest ride-hailing service in China and doesn’t have to take on Uber in that market. Lyft has conspicuously decided against opening for business in China, presumably because of the high cost of setting up operations there and competing with established local services.

Although they disagree about the exact figures, Didi is still undisputedly far ahead of Uber in terms of market share in China. Didi says it completes 10 million rides daily, has 13 million car owners and drivers in its networks, and completed 1.43 billion rides in 2015.

In the coming weeks, the companies expect to add similar cross promotion for Lyft passengers traveling to China, as well as for Grab and Lyft customers. Though Ola was not discussed during the press event, a Lyft executive confirmed that the company is still a partner and expects to introduce similar integrations with the company down the line.

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