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

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Toyota was initially cautious about ride-sharing and autonomous-driving technology. The carmaker first invested an undisclosed amount in Grab in August previous year, 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. Last year, its trading arm, Toyota Tsusho Corp, injected an undisclosed amount in Grab, and the companies have worked together since August developing connected services.

The deal extends Toyota's cooperation with Grab, the largest ride-hailing service in Southeast Asia, the carmaker said in a statement Wednesday, without disclosing what percentage of Grab it will own. It raised $2.5 billion in its last round in July, resulting in a reported value of $6 billion.

Toyota is placing a big bet on Southeast Asia's largest ride-hailing company.

FILE PHOTO: A man walks past a Grab office in Singapore March 26, 2018.

Toyota has installed its driving recorder devices in some vehicles operated by Grab, using the collected data stored in its mobility services platform to analyse driving patterns and develop vehicle services.

"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", said Ming Maa, president at Grab. "We want to be the one-stop mobility platform for users". Grab has already forced Uber Technologies Inc.to retreat from Southeast Asia.

Grab now claims over 100 million downloads of its app across eight countries in Asia, including Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand and more.

One Toyota executive will be appointed to Grab's board of directors and a dedicated Toyota team member will be seconded to Grab as an executive officer. In addition, collaborations in driving-data-based automotive insurance, financial services for Grab drivers and maintenance services are also contemplated under the new partnership.

Last month, Indonesian ride-hailing and online payment firm Go-Jek said it would enter Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore and the Philippines in the next few months, investing $500 million in its global push.

Earlier this year, Uber sold its regional operations to Grab for a 27.5 per cent stake in the Singapore-headquartered firm, ending a bruising battle between the two for regional dominance.

Founded in 2012 by Malaysian Harvard Business School graduates Anthony Tan and Tan Hooi Ling, Grab now dominates the third-party and private vehicle hailing markets across Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and Myanmar.

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