Didi Chuxing, the rideshare giant that drove Uber out of China, is turning its attention to Mexico in a bid to gain a foothold on North American soil. The move marks Didi’s first attempt at international expansion.
The company has already met with Mexican trade and investment officials, and is in the process of recruiting drivers, with the intent of launching its service by spring of 2018.
In China, Didi and Uber waged a hard-fought battle for several years, as Uber launched in several dozen Chinese markets and tried to out-spend Didi — and reportedly lost nearly $2 billion in the process. After a billion-dollar cash injection from Apple, however, Didi took control of Uber’s Chinese operations, effectively ending the competition. As part of the deal, Uber gained a one-fifth share of Didi, while Didi invested a billion dollars in Uber.
The close-knit relationship-slash-rivalry also stands to become further intertwined with Softbank investing in both, but that doesn’t appear to be enough for Didi to stop in its attempt to expand into new territories currently dominated by Uber. Earlier this year, Didi raised over $5.5 billion in funding with an eye toward global expansion. So far, that expansion has included investing in fellow Uber competitors including Lyft and operations in Brazil, India, Singapore, and the Middle East.
Establishing direct competition against Uber in Mexico is a distinct elevation in the battle, and the stakes for Uber are huge. Mexico City is Uber’s third strongest market, behind only Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.