Wednesday, 15 August, 2018

Toyota Motor to invest US$1 billion in ride-hailing firm Grab

Toyota showroom An employee of Toyota Motor Corp. prepares for an event at Mega Web a renewed Toyota in Tokyo Wednesday Nov. 6 2013
Priscilla Morrison | 13 June, 2018, 18:40

Toyoda - due to face shareholder questions at an annual meeting Thursday in Toyota City - is putting in the money after GM's Cruise autonomous-car unit won a $2.25 billion investment from billionaire Masayoshi Son's SoftBank Group Corp.

Grab plans to work with partners to create a more efficient transport network that will ease traffic congestion in Southeast Asia's megacities. Toyota has installed its data recorders in Grab-operated rental cars to collect driving data - a strategy similar to the one it has employed at Japan Taxi.

It also said Toyota will appoint an executive to Grab's board of directors while a dedicated Toyota team member will be seconded to Grab as an executive officer.

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

"This investment isn't necessarily about making money, but about getting access to technology that fits in some place in Toyota's broader business", said Edwin Merner, the Tokyo-based president of Atlantis Investment Research Corp., which doesn't own Toyota shares but is invested in Toyota Tsusho.

Prior to this, Toyota has also invested in Grab (and its former rival Uber). The carmaker first invested an undisclosed amount in Grab in August past 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.

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Southeast Asia, home to about 640 million people, is a major arena for tech firms offering services from digital payments and ride-hailing to e-commerce.

"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 put money into Grab via its Next Technology Fund a year ago, but this time around the capital comes directly from the parent company. This strong partnership will enable us to become the one-stop mobility platform in Southeast Asia. In particular, that will involve close collaboration with the Toyota Mobility Service Platform (MSPF), which is working on areas such as user-based insurance, new types of financial packages and predictive auto maintenance.

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

Grab, which is similar to Uber in the USA, is in eight nations in the region, including Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia. The company's app has been downloaded onto over 100 million mobile devices and the firm logs over 6 million rides per day.

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