China’s Didi Chuxing revealed last month that it plans to expand into global markets, and today we got the first hint of what that might look like after the Uber rival announced a tie-in with U.S. car rental giant Avis.
The partnership will Avis introduce an option for booking cars overseas — in 175 countries, to be precise — inside the Didi app. The option is strictly for booking cars, not chauffeured cars or taxis. The upshot is that Chinese tourists who are traveling abroad get a fairly convenient way to plan their travel once they land and before they jet off, assuming that they want their own four-wheels.
TechCrunch understands that the initial integration will go live in early 2017 ahead of Chinese New Year at the end of January. (That makes sense since many Chinese travel overseas for the holiday period.) Further down the line, Didi may increase its integration with Avis to allow users to book cars — and potentially more — on the ground once overseas.
This isn’t a spectacular, fireworks-filled first push overseas, but it is a move that could play a part in helping Didi to identify countries where its users are particular keen to manage their transportation options, and thus markets where the company could expand its services organically. Yes, Didi does have investments in Uber rivals in the U.S. (Lyft), India (Ola) and Southeast Asia (Grab), but it has said that its global expansion could come in the form of starting its own operations or buying local services. There’s no word on when the global expansion may come, for that matter.
Perhaps interesting to note, Didi confirmed to us that this “strategic partnership” does not include any investment on either side. Had that not been the case, it might have been telling of Didi’s global plans, but it isn’t.