Toyota Motor to invest USD1 billion in ride-hailing firm Grab

A logo of Toyota Motor Corp is seen at the company's showroom in Tokyo Japan

A logo of Toyota Motor Corp is seen at the company’s showroom in Tokyo Japan

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. Grab recently took over Uber's Southeast Asia operations after years of competition, and is now going head-to-head in Indonesia with rival Go-jek.

Singapore-based ride-hailing firm Grab just announced today that Toyota Motor will invest US$1 billion into the company as a lead investor in Grab's ongoing financing round. 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 representative is being tapped to be an executive officer at Grab, the company said.

Grab called it the largest-ever investment globally by an automotive manufacturer in the ride-hailing sector.

General Motors Co has invested in USA ride services firm Lyft, whose rival Uber Technologies Inc [UBER.UL] is also backed by Toyota. The firm also offers online to offline services, such as food delivery and digital payments, which it aims to expand deeper into the region using funds from its latest financing round.

Wednesday's announcement deepens Toyota's partnership with Grab, following an earlier, undisclosed investment by the automaker's trading arm past year.

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"As a global leader in the automative industry, Toyota's investment in Grab is based on their conviction in our leadership in driving the adoption of new mobility solutions and expanding [online-to-offline] mobile services, such as GrabFood and GrabPay, in the region", said Ming Maa, Grab's president.

Toyota's trading arm, Toyota Tsusho Corp., invested an undisclosed amount in August, and the companies have worked together since then, developing connected services.

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

Grab said it logs six million rides a day via apps downloaded onto over 100 million mobile devices. This strong partnership will enable us to become the one-stop mobility platform in Southeast Asia.

Other Grab investors include Japan's Honda Motor Co Ltd, South Korea's Hyundai Motor Co and Chinese ride-hailing firm Didi Chuxing.

In a statement, Toyota said the deal "is aimed at achieving connectivity for Grab's rental auto fleet across Southeast Asia, and at rolling out various connected services throughout the region that utilize vehicle data" stored by Toyota. Go-jek is expected to expand its operations outside Indonesia this year in countries such as Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

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