China's Didi Chuxing to allow app users to access rivals' services

FILE PHOTO: An employee shows the app of China's Didi Chuxing as they launches their ride service in Toluca, Mexico, April 23, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso/File Photo

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s biggest ride-hailing company Didi Chuxing will allow users of its smartphone app to access services provided by apps of three domestic auto firms and others, in a push to generate more orders.

Didi said in a statement on Monday it has opened its ride-hailing platform to third parties including those of FAW Group, Dongfeng Motor 0489.HK and Guangzhou Automobile Group (GAC) 601238.SS.

Passengers can order ride-hailing services from FAW, Dongfeng and GAC from Didi’s app, which has 550 million registered users in China.

The move accelerates a trend in China where automakers are launching their own ride-hailing services, while ride-hailers such as Didi are teaming up with automakers to ultimately develop purpose-built cars for their services.

FAW, Dongfeng and Chongqing Changan Automobile 000625.SZ set up a $1.5 billion Chinese ride-hailing venture with Alibaba BABA.N, Tencent 0700.HK and retailer Suning 002024.SZ earlier this year.

Car makers including Geely, SAIC 600104.SS and BMW BMWG.DE have their own ride-hailing services in China, though some of them are regional services.

Didi will leverage its strength in artificial intelligence, operational expertise and marketplace strategies to help partners build capacities for connected vehicle operations, the statement said.

China is home to the world’s largest ride-hailing market, estimated by consulting firm Bain & Co to be worth more than $20 billion in 2016. Didi Chuxing accounted for about 90 percent of all bookings.

Reporting by Yilei Sun and Norihiko Shirouzu in Beijing; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman