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Toyota Plans Billion-Dollar Investment in Ride-Hailing Startup Grab

Toyota Plans Billion-Dollar Investment in Ride-Hailing Startup Grab

The Japanese giant's investment values Grab, South-east Asia's largest car-hailing service, at just over US$10 billion, Bloomberg reported. This time, the automaker is lead investor in a financing round launched after Grab acquired Uber's operations in Southeast Asia, a region of 640 million people.

Japan's top automaker Toyota Motor Corp is investing US$1 billion in Grab, the leading ride-hailing company in Southeast Asia. Toyota has installed its data recorders in Grab-operated rental cars to collect driving data - a similar strategy it has employed with Japan Taxi.

A Toyota executive will be appointed to Grab's board and another Toyota official is being tapped to be an executive officer at Grab, the company said.

"I am delighted that we are strengthening our collaboration, which utilizes Toyota's connected technologies", Toyota Executive Vice President Shigeki Tomoyama said in a statement.

The deal comes as the auto industry faces a spike in the need for technological prowess with the advent of features such as autonomous driving, while app makers offer passengers the option to forgo vehicle purchases by connecting them with drivers.

Toyota also has ties to Uber.

"As a global leader in the automotive industry, Toyota's investment in Grab is based on their conviction in our leadership in driving the adoption of new mobility solutions and expanding O2O mobile services, such as GrabFood and GrabPay, in the region", Ming Maa, president of Grab, said in the release. The carmaker first invested an undisclosed amount in Grab in August a year ago, after it invested in US-based Uber in 2016 in a partnership for a financing programme that allowed Uber drivers to lease vehicles from Toyota and drive for Uber to cover the payments. General Motors, Daimler and Honda Motor are among manufacturers that are investing in ride-hailing applications and developing self-driving vehicles.

"We are thrilled to have Toyota onboard as a long-term, strategic partner of Grab".

Toyota, the world's most valuable carmaker with a market capitalization of about $221 billion, has sought partnerships with a pantheon of tech companies including Amazon Inc. and Apple Inc.in a bet that data will be a key part of its future.

From its beginnings as a taxi-booking app - its original name is GrabTaxi - the company is morphing into an online platform for connecting users and offline services, and is venturing into financial services and venture capital.

"Together with Grab, we will develop services that are more attractive, safe and secure for our customers in Southeast Asia", he said.

Grab said it logs six million rides a day via apps downloaded onto over 100 million mobile devices. Earlier this year, Hyundai (HYMTF) alsoinvested in Grab.

Grab, which is similar to Uber in the US, is in eight nations in the region, including Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia.

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